Canadian Women's Hockey League, home of Markham Thunder, plans to fold


The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, which includes the Markham Thunder among its six teams, announced March 31 it will cease operations and fold.

The league posted a release to its website informing fans it would discontinue operations on May 1.

“New management, led by Jayna Hefford, and the new board, put in place in summer and fall 2018 respectively, have proactively worked with our contract staff, players, GMs, industry partners and corporate sponsors to establish an adequate revenue base, good governance, and high-quality hockey on the ice.

“Women’s hockey is fast, skilled, and generally high scoring, making for excellent entertainment,” added the release. “Unfortunately, the business model that has been the foundation of the league is not sustainable financially.”

Six teams in Canada, the United States and China competed in the most recent season, including the Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Canadiennes de Montreal, Shenzen KRS Vanke Rays, Toronto Furies and Worcester Blades.

“I worked closely with the CWHL to attract the Markham Thunder to the City of Markham and a lot of effort went into finding the team a new home,” Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti said in a news release.

“We hope other arrangements can be made with hockey stakeholders and we will continue to support the Markham Thunder as they explore all options,” he continued. “Our community stands behind their team, but this should serve as a call to action that we must all do our part and the hockey world must step up to support women’s hockey and grow the game for generations to come.”

The league was founded in 2007 and recently expanded to China in 2017 in hopes of growing the game and expanding its fan and revenue base. The CWHL began paying its players in 2017.

“We would like to acknowledge the management and players of Team KRS for their commitment to the CWHL and growth of women’s hockey in China,” said the league.

According to the league, 175,000 fans tuned in to watch the 2018-19 Clarkson Cup final, which saw Calgary defeat Montreal on March 24 to win the team’s first championship.

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