PDA

View Full Version : World Hockey Summit: Women’s hockey plots future course



Hux
08-26-2010, 06:58 PM
Women’s hockey plots future course

August 26, 2010

Video:Angela Ruggiero on growing women's hockey
******** width="480" height="289" frameborder="0" src="http://mapleleafs.nhl.tv/team/embed.jsp?catid=802&id=74814"></iframe>

By Harry Thompson
USA Hockey Magazine

Jacques Rogge fired the shot heard round the women’s hockey world when he issued an improve or else-type statement before the gold-medal game at Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

On Thursday in Toronto, the women’s hockey community finally had a chance to fire back.

With the specter of the International Olympic Committee president’s comments still hanging in the air, the leadership of the top women’s hockey playing countries took the first step toward launching a global initiative aimed at raising the bar for the women’s game in advance of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and beyond.

Among those who spoke on behalf of the women’s game were four-time U.S. Olympian Angela Ruggiero and Mark Johnson, who led the U.S. Women’s Olympic Team to a silver medal in Vancouver. They were joined by Canadian player Hayley Wickenheiser and head coach Mel Davidson; Peter Elander, former head coach of the Swedish women’s team; and Arto Sieppi, long-time director of women’s hockey in Finland.

Over the course of the session, the panel took turns outlining the challenges ahead while extolling the strengths of the women’s game.

“There is so much potential in our sport, and I use the words ‘our sport’ because it’s something that we all love and have a passion for,” said Ruggiero, who was elected to the IOC Athletes Commission.

“I would love nothing more than for every boy and girl have an opportunity to play the greatest game in the world.”

While growth at the grassroots level is vital to the long-term success of the women’s game, a more pressing issue, especially in light of Rogge’s comments, was narrowing the gap between what Wickenheiser referred to as “hockey’s haves and have nots.”

Many have viewed Rogge’s comments, which were a reaction to the lopsided scores in the women’s Olympic tournament, as unfair, especially in light of how long it took men’s hockey to become competitive.

“Women’s hockey is like a new company,” said Sieppi. “Everyone in this room, and everyone in hockey, are all investors in women’s hockey. I think you should invest in women’s hockey.”

That won’t happen without support of the global hockey community, but most in the audience said improvement starts at home with the individual federations.

While USA Hockey and Hockey Canada have been lauded for their efforts to support women’s hockey from the grassroots level up through their elite programs, other federations have received less than high marks when it came to supporting their female athletes.

One country that was singled out during the session was Russia, which has a proud tradition of excellence on the men’s side but does little to support its women’s program. That “lack of support,” as some on the panel called it, shows on the ice. In Vancouver, the Russians finished a disappointing fifth in the final standings.

With the next Olympic tournament slated to be played on Russian ice, many of the stakeholders in the women’s game want to know what the 2014 host country plans to do to field a more competitive team in Sochi.

One suggestion from Elander, who is now the associate head women’s coach at the University of North Dakota, would be to place a cap on the amount of days women’s national team programs spend together. His Finnish counterpart quickly shot down that idea.

“People are telling the U.S. and Canada to slow down,” said Sieppi. “I say ‘Go faster. Invest more money to make your players even better.’

“That will force European leaders to invest more money and more resources to the women’s game. That’s the only way.”

One topic that was addressed during the session was the possibility of a women’s professional league where the best players from around the world could play in a competitive environment while being paid.

According to Wickenheiser, discussions were recently held with the NHL to receive some support for such a plan, but nothing is definite at this point.

“I think we have to take baby steps because we’re only going to get one shot at it,” said Wickenheiser, who announced that she would retire after Sochi.

Other suggestions centered around the International Ice Hockey Federation doing more to support the women’s game, including the creation of a full-time staff person to focus on women’s hockey. At one point Elander suggested that Ruggiero, a Harvard University graduate who is currently working on her Master’s degree, would be the ideal candidate for such a role.

In the meantime, Murray Costello, a Canadian who works for the IIHF, announced that the federation would commit $2 million to the growth of women’s hockey. IIHF President Rene Fasel confirmed the support in his closing remarks to the summit.

All these moves are viewed as positive steps in the right direction, but at the end of the day, the best way to promote the women’s game is to keep playing on the biggest stage.

“The best way to promote our sport always has been and always will be the Olympics,” Ruggiero said.

5 4 Fighting
08-27-2010, 09:56 AM
This is how fricken boring it was...


http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2010/08/23/sp-hockey-summit.html

5 4 Fighting
09-06-2010, 11:48 AM
It's my understanding that 2 Scandinavian countries (Denmark & Sweden...I believe) have recently passed legislation to provide full tuition funding to any of there female hockey players that are recruited to a U.S.College. The tide may be turning....

23Fan
09-06-2010, 12:20 PM
It's my understanding that 2 Scandinavian countries (Denmark & Sweden...I believe) have recently passed legislation to provide full tuition funding to any of there female hockey players that are recruited to a U.S.College. The tide may be turning....

Not sure about Denmark and Sweden but Norway's students all have education paid for by the country when coming to USA. Three players on my D's D1 soccer team did this.

5 4 Fighting
09-06-2010, 12:30 PM
Not sure about Denmark and Sweden but Norway's students all have education paid for by the country when coming to USA. Three players on my D's D1 soccer team did this.

Thanks 23...I was waiting for someone to chime in and confirm the countries in question who are offering this...I do know there are at least 2 and maybe more?

CanHockGuy
09-06-2010, 12:38 PM
I imagine that this is bad news for some people. :)

OnMAA
09-06-2010, 10:51 PM
Not sure about Denmark and Sweden but Norway's students all have education paid for by the country when coming to USA. Three players on my D's D1 soccer team did this.

Hmmm... I saw Team Norway play recently. They were touring Canada. A couple of those players would look pretty good on a D1 team. Not sure how old they were.