Marie-Philip Poulin had been answering questions for a few minutes about the prospects with whom she had been skating for three days at the Canadian development camp.
She was certainly enthusiastic about the Lane Hutson, David Reinbacher and Logan Mailloux, but her eyes really lit up when the first question on the future women’s league was asked.
” Oh yeah ! I’m very excited, this is very nice news, “said the legendary player.
“We’ve been asked many times when this happens. I don’t know how many times I’ve said it’s gonna happen. There, I can finally tell you, it will be in January, only one league for women’s hockey. We’ve been working for this moment for several years. »
The women’s hockey community is still taking the measure of the shock wave that occurred last week, when it was announced that a new league would see the light of day, with the financial support of Mark Walter, co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and of tennis legend Billie Jean King, among others.
There are still a lot of details to work out. It is unknown what will survive of the two leagues that will feed the new entity. Of course, we know that there will be six teams, three in Canada and three in the United States.
Barring a colossal surprise, Montreal will have its team, but it’s still unclear if the name of the Force, its staff or its players will be part of the project. La Force played in the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF). The organization has still not commented on the news.
Conversely, Poulin played for the Harvey’s team in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). She’ll have her place on a team, but which one?
The recently ratified collective agreement, valid until 2031, also raises questions, as would any eight-year contract signed at a time when the structure of the league is still unclear.
“We wanted to set up a CBA [collective agreement], to have the necessary resources, to be paid correctly, to have physios, doctors, the amphitheater, that everything be professional. We’ve been working on it for several years,” Poulin said.
In the eyes of the triple Olympic gold medalist, the presence of Billie Jean King in the project is crucial. “She started with a clean sheet, she signed a first contract, which was not worth much. And we see where women’s tennis is at,” she said.
“We won’t get paid millions, we all know that. But we want to start at a salary that will allow us to do this with our lives. We deserve it, we’ve been working for it for years. We don’t compare to men’s hockey. »
Reading between the lines, we understand that the future entity is a step in the right direction for women’s hockey in general, but that on an individual level, there will be some left behind. The PHF alone had seven teams; the PWHPA, four. From 11 teams, we will therefore go to six clubs for the moment.
“You never want to see players out of work, out of contract,” Poulin concedes. It happened quickly. We are working so that these girls can get back into the league.
“We want it to be professional and professional sport, it’s not easy to be a part of it. You have to show up every day and fight. Some will show up and will not be accepted. That’s the best part. Maybe next year a player will come back and take your place. It happens in the NHL, in professional sports. That’s what we want in women’s hockey. »