The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala - May 31, 2019

Waiting for the dust to settle - Interview with Katie Fitzgerald - must-click links around women's hockey

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This is the complimentary issue this week, but there is so much more to come regarding women’s hockey. Only way to make sure you don’t miss all the latest news, starting with Annie Peterson’s World Cup dispatch from France on Monday, is to subscribe! Five different women’s sports in your inbox, five days a week, just five dollars a month!


Gary Bettman says … something, the NWHL says something too

Just a year ago, I would have been begging for women’s hockey news in the offseason. Now, I hardly know what to make of the developments that unfurl day by day. Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Quick hits: Gary Bettman was asked for a comment, the NWHL made a statement, more people signed NWHL contracts. The next sections includes some news clips that will help keep you up-to-date on women’s hockey. Here, I’ll attempt to share what it all means.

What does it all mean this week? To be blunt, who the hell knows?

I have, and remain to be, critical of #ForTheGame for not explicitly taking aim at the NWHL and/or Dani Rylan, nor explicitly saying (anymore, #OneLeague was more focused on NHL involvement) they want the WNHL. I get the sense that some of the reason for the former is because there are mixed feelings about leaving a women’s hockey league behind.

To be clear, being conflicted about leaving a situation DOES NOT mean you agree with everything you’ve had to endure while IN any given situation. Being critical DOES NOT mean you are not appreciative of the opportunities, in this case, the NWHL has made available. Both things can exist in the mind and heart of a single person, whether they are choosing to move on or deciding to stay.

So, if I look at things in that light, I can better understand the conversations I’ve had with players over the last two months. I can understand, perhaps, why a movement that wants to mobilize 200+ players might want to take the most broad strokes approach possible, for now. We’re in the forming phase (Tuckman’s model, group phase theory, woot-woot!)

With that said, I continue to believe there is a lot more grey (gray? I truly can’t decide which I prefer, but I think I’ll use the '“ey” version, because I think it looks more like the version that describes both color and mood) area. I do think the incorporation of the PWHPA has the potential to help, but I think it will take a while to move to “black & white” as Amanda Pelkey notes in her interview with a local news station, link below.

However, I am not alone in wanting the “dust to settle” to determine what to make of women’s hockey. I am referring to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s comments on women’s hockey ahead of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals.

At first, I figuratively banged my head against the wall when I read the comments. Then, I typed everything you just read and began to think. First, Bettman’s recent comments cannot be removed from his earlier remarks about women’s hockey. Second, I think we all are waiting for the dust to settle on the situation, including those who have signed NWHL contracts, and those who remain steadfast that they will not.

On that note, it has come to my attention that Cailey Hutchison, who signed with the Riveters, originally shared the #ForTheGame message. This development points to a few things for me:

  • People can do what they want

  • People can change their minds

  • Things are grey

  • I feel vindicated about my rant on social media “activism” roughly a month ago

  • People can do what they want

  • People can change their minds

  • Things are grey

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This Week in Women’s Hockey

Here is the full NWHL press release.

More about the NWHL from:

I took a closer look at the new NWHL contracts for The Hockey News.

The Lamoureux Sisters discuss the recent Nike controversy, their pregnancies, and ask why can’t women have it all?

HAPPY PRIDE MONTH EVE! I’ll be representing the Black Girl Hockey Club tomorrow at the Street Hockey with the New York Rangers event hosted by the Hetrick-Martin Institute.

The Ice Garden chats with Digit Murphy about The Aurora Games and much more!

Not an article, but a useful resource if you want to support hockey players holding camps this summer. Well done, Daniel Harbridge. SOMEONE HAVE AN ADULT SKATE!

The Victory Press provides their opinion on the new NWHL contract. There are some interesting nuggets here, some that I hope to revisit soon.

Mandy Cronin named new Buffalo Beauts general manager. Read what Nathaniel Oliver thinks of the hire.

IIHF : China will make its Olympic debut at home.

Mike Murphy at The Sporting News with a helpful look at the #ForTheGame timeline.

Enjoyed learning about the “She’s Got Game” initiative in Canada. It is explained in this article as a “year-round campaign to engage the community, implement equitable policies, and raise money for women and girls in sport.”

When loyal fans aren’t enough, an interesting look at the Virginia Slims Tournament in respect to women’s hockey.

I speak with Elizabeth of Hear Her Sports Podcast about the latest women’s hockey news. Note: This podcast was recorded before the PWHPA was announced.

VIDEO: After a few stumbles (TV is hard people, and at least a correction was made regarding Pelkey being a big name) WCAX chats with Olympian Amanda Pelkey about her first hockey camp and #ForTheGame. I tend to agree with her that things are a bit unclear, but eager to see how things pan out.


Tweet of the Week

So, now we just out here spreading rumors? Cool. Cool. Cool.


Five at The IX: Katie Fitzgerald

This week I spoke to Katie about her upcoming goalie camp with Riveters teammates Sarah Bryant and Kimberly Sass for the first-ever one three 35 goalie camps this summer. Fitzgerald also talks about helping with the graphic design, the new logo dropping soon, and the hottest topic in women’s hockey #ForTheGame.

Also, it’s very likely that these will go beyond five questions and/or long. I’ve found most of the players I speak to actually have a lot to say about women’s hockey these days. But, stick with it! I certainly have my opinions (scroll up), but this section is a time to hear from people directly impacting and being impacted by the current women’s hockey landscape.

Erica L. Ayala: Alright, so lots of fans pretty excited to see that the goalie trio is back in action with a few goalie camps this summer. Tell me how that got started. What made you want to put that together?

Katie Fitzgerald: Sarah Bryant has coached a bit throughout the past couple seasons at the high school she taught at, and I started coaching a lot more last summer, and [Kimberly] Sass has done coaching before. Just as you get older and have a day job, it's hard to take a full week off to coach. So we definitely wanted to do something that will be more accessible for us. So the one day a week leading up to when [the hockey] season would start was perfect for us. And we thought it would be more beneficial for [goalies] instead of just putting them through five days of hard work in June and then taking a couple months off before the season. So it just seemed like a really cool idea and a good way for us to stay connected and have fun together and kind of stay present in the New Jersey hockey world, since all the Riveter stuff is a little up in the air. So I thought it would be a good way to kind of keep our faces out there.

ELA: Yeah, for sure and we will definitely get to some of that. But, I understand that you helped finalize the graphic. I know that your family is known for some of the t-shirts they put together. Is that something that you've also dabbled in?

KF: Yeah, that's what I used to do for the Chicago Bandits. So haven't dabbled in it for a while. Definitely had to dust off the Photoshop skills, re-downloaded to my computer. But yeah, I really enjoyed it. It came back to me a little quicker than I thought. And obviously, my brother is the graphic designer. He's the artist of the family, I am not. I would send them to him and get his feedback or ask him this and that and he’d give me tips or say, ‘Hey, this would be a little better here.’ Or he'd say, ‘Just send it to me, I'll fix it for you.’

I'm like, no!

But he did make us a logo that we're going to post. It's actually really cool. That's going to be our official logo on our track suits and whatever merchandise we get.

ELA: What do you want the folks that are coming to this goalie camp to be able to take away? Are you looking for people just trying out the position, for folks that are a little more advanced? Is it is it a mix?

KF: It's definitely a good mix. We have some people that are just trying it out different levels of play, of skill, different ages. So we're really looking to just get a really good mix of people and to really help them gain confidence going forward. Whether it's into a youth hockey season, into like a men's league season, no matter what it is just to help them gain confidence, add to their foundation, add to their toolbox, whatever we can.

Whether it's certain foundation skating, power skating that helps you feel more comfortable on your skates, different saves or situations, vision training, off-ice training. Just different things that can be picked up, even if it's like a warm-up routine that will eventually help them in the future. Just any little thing that we can pass along to the next generation or even to those that are our age that want to get back into it.

ELA: As you alluded, there's lots up in the air, not just with the Riveters, but with women's hockey. All three of you have shared the #ForTheGame mission when it came out on May 2. I do want to ask where you're at with everything and what's your stance? What are what do you think this means for you come the fall?

KF: I do think it's obviously a difficult thing, because I do appreciate the NWHL and I'm so grateful for the opportunities that it has given me. Like, if the NWHL had not existed, I would have retired years ago, I wouldn't have had the opportunities that I've had, met the people that I've met, and you know, [become] the person that I've grown into since meeting these people and becoming a part of this league. So it is a difficult decision. For me, I think especially just knowing how grateful I am to the league, and to Dani [Rylan], and to everyone, and to Chad [Wiseman], and just everyone who made this what it was.

But I do think that there's a fine line between having that grateful attitude and being grateful to just play the game. I think I'm grateful for more than just being able to play the game. I am grateful for this specific things like the league and our Riveters organization and things like that.

I do think that things need to be stepped up, I think there is a level of legitimacy that needs to be reached. And if in the meantime, you know, some of us may have to - I would like to play if there is a new league - but if there comes a time where there's not enough spots, you know, I think that's kind of what this is all about. That some of us are willing to sacrifice the tail end of our careers if it needs to happen in order for not only the current players that are at an extremely high level and working to create this to be able to play, but also for future generations, for the kids that are in college and high school, and elementary school. And for kids who have just started playing and things like that.

So it is it is really cool to be able to be a part of this movement. It is difficult at the same time. You know?

ELA: Yeah, I can imagine. Are there things, realistically, that the NWHL could do for players, whether they have tweeted #ForTheGame or honestly just want to see women's hockey be better, to get there? Or do you think this really has to be starting fresh?

KF: I think it depends on who you're trying to sway, honestly. But I think there are just certain things that even I have overlooked for so long that I didn't even realize was not to the standard that it should be. For instance, insurance is one thing that I never had to worry about that other people have really struggled with. Obviously, the salaries and just things like that. They have gone up this year, but it's just kind of this, I think there's this urge for something more. To have hockey be the sole thing that you do and what you can focus all your time on. And for that to be able to be a livable wage.

I do know realistically, it is difficult. And I know that if the NWHL had the funds, they would be more than happy to provide these things. I think it's just tricky, just depending on who's in charge and just different power things. Obviously, certain [attracting] legitimate organizations and getting everyone on the same page is really difficult. And getting all the resources going one way instead of before they're going two ways with the CWHL and NWHL. And now, they're kind of going two ways again, too. So I think just getting everything on one page would be ideal.

ELA: Another question where, I think as you said, maybe it depends on who you're talking to, is where the NHL fits in all of this? Do you think that all roads lead to or have to lead to the NHL? Or is there something that could bring you further away from the what has not been good enough in the NWHL, but closer to what a lot of people think would work if the NHL were running things?

KF: I think our goal is, one league that I based off of, obviously they're having their own kind of issues, is the WNBA. They are having their own issues, but considering the level that they have reached in the past, how long has it been around, 20 years?

ELA: Yes, 23rd season started this month.

KF: But just seeing kind of the exposure that they have, even at the college level, makes their pro level that much better, it’s that much more visible. And I think that's something that women's hockey is slowly on its way to with even college visibility. And, you know, national team visibility has really risen. And I think getting the pro level more visibility would be a really big step and a key step.

You hear like people on Twitter saying, ‘No one wants to watch women's hockey, blah, blah.’ And it's like, well, ‘What would you do if the NHL wasn't on national TV? How would you go about that? What would you do if they only play in this small arena? Or if you weren't sure where it was? Or if they weren't on billboards and commercials Where would you be with that team then? You know, if you like flip the script a little bit.


Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women's Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren PGA.com
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster