No NHL? No Problem. Check out the CWHL instead.

Wow.. this is my first post in FOREVER! It’s been so long I actually forgot my website login credentials.  But what was I supposed to write about? Millionaires fighting millionaires over millions?

No thanks. This blog is about loving hockey, and the lockout is the exact opposite of that. And those are the last words you’ll read me write concerning this lockout.

On to the good stuff.

Yesterday afternoon I happened to be invited to go watch Olympic calibre hockey. “Olympic calibre!” you ask.. “hockey!?” you say… That is correct my fellow hockey lovers.  The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the CWHL.

The Montreal Stars hosted the Boston Blades for  Saturday night and Sunday afternoon games. I caught the latter, with Montreal losing 4-1. (Why is it that no matter what I’m watching, Montreal is always losing to Boston 4-1?)

For $10, I watched 2010 Olympians Caroline Ouellette, Megan Agosta, Kim St-Pierre, Charline Labonté, Catherine Ward, Hayley Irwin, Sara Vailloncourt, and USA team member, Julie Chu –  and that was only on the Stars.

Was it like watching the Habs play the Bruins at the Bell Centre? No.  Not even close. In fact, it’s unfair to compare, and does a disservice to the great product the CWHL is putting on the ice.  It’s better to ask, “did you have a good time?”, and to that I answer yes.  Spending time watching hockey with friends and having a couple soda-pops (no beer!) on a Sunday afternoon? Yes please.

Now let me put my day-job hat on for a moment (Marketing Director), and let me now talk about what worked and didn’t work, in terms of the experience:

What Worked

  • The price: $10… Though I’d up it to at least $15. Don’t undervalue yourself!
  • The quality of hockey. Let me say this again, the teams are made of of OLYMPIANS. A good number of these ladies have won either a Gold or Silver medal, AT THE OLYMPICS. 
  • A big effort was made to make the athletes accessible to the fans. Both teams were expected to get changed quickly and make their way upstairs for an autograph session.
  • The people at the game. I probably ran into a dozen different people I knew. It was like the mid-90’s at the Forum when my family  had season tickets and I’d run into all my hockey loving classmates. We subsequently would try and then find ways to ditch our parents so we could sneak cigarettes in the basement bathrooms. This was the same thing, minus the secret cigarettes.  Everyone was there because they enjoyed watching hockey.

What Didn’t Work

  • Concessions. No one was in any hurry and it was painful to watch.
  • Venue. It’s a small but valid point that encompasses a few things. If this league would like to come across as pro, there are a few things that would help. Branding of the Stars in the arena. Easier access to the right ice surface. Better sound system (couldn’t understand a thing being said). Concessions sold in the stands. Sponsorship recognition (beyond the muffled thanks at the end of a period). etc.. etc…
  • …and because this is actually a hockey blog, so if I’m going to criticize the play of NHL’ers, then I will extend the same courtesy to these athletes:  Kim St-Pierre, I’m looking at you. The first goal was weak… I don’t think she even saw it. And the rebounds! It was like the Oprah car give-away… you get a rebound, you get a rebound, everybody gets a rebound.
All in all, I’m thrilled I went.
The next home game is Nov 17th vs Boston and I’ll be there.


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