For Canadians, the domestic women’s hockey landscape has been in disarray of late. The CWHL has collapsed, and try explaining to your friends what a PWHPA Dream Gap Tour is. You’ll probably have to break it to them that no, Cassie Campbell or Geraldine Heaney won’t be playing in it either.
The Toronto Six’s entry into the NWHL this year has provided an opportunity for Canadian women to play professional hockey that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Canada is the number one consumer of hockey worldwide, and all but two members of the Toronto Six roster are Canadian.
It’s been quite an introduction to the NWHL for many of the youth that have engaged with the league via social media or its games broadcasted live on NBCSN and Twitch. With a whirlwind season not short of its fair share of entertainment, the season has seen everything from high-scoring games to roaring comebacks to crushing defeats and budding rivalries blossom.
The Toronto Six’s success this season has even sparked rumours of the addition of a Montréal-based team to join the league starting in 2021-2022, which really would be something special.
With all of its success, why does social media engagement or viewership matter? The more people engage with the Toronto Six or NWHL on social media, and the more viewers watching the game on TV or via Twitch will ultimately lead to greater potential sponsorship opportunities for both the team and league. More revenue will lead to better player salaries, creating potential for growth of the professionalization of women’s hockey.
The more women playing hockey as a full-time profession will lead to better quality of play, more fans, and most importantly a recognizable goal for girls in this country to aspire to – to play for the Toronto Six. Professional women’s hockey can be a viable career choice here in Canada.
It’s up to the viewer, the consumer, to prove it to the powers that be. So, turn on the TV for the Toronto Six’s Isobel Cup playoff semifinals against the Boston Pride on Friday.
Do it for your fellow Canadians looking to absolve the sins that another professional Toronto hockey team might have committed against in Boston in previous years.
Do it for their families and friends who’ve supported them over the years, spending the long freezing hours driving from rink to rink.
Do it for Canada – for all the girls in this country, so that they can continue to have role models to look up to and maybe one day emulate on the same stage.
Do it for hockey, so fans get the chance to see the next Mikyla Grant-Mentis in action.
Your voice as a hockey consumer matters, now more than ever.
The Toronto Six take on the Boston Pride at 5 p.m. ET on Mar. 26. The game can be watched live on Twitch or NBC.