Just days before its marquee event of the season, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League is dealing with the resignation of one of its most prominent and recognizable governors, THN.com has learned.
Former Canadian Olympian and current broadcaster Cassie Campbell-Pascall resigned from her position as a CWHL governor over the weekend. The resignation was confirmed by the CWHL in an email to THN.com, but CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress offered no further comment. (Full disclosure: THN publisher Graeme Roustan is a member of the CWHL, but offered no comment when asked about Campbell’s resignation.)
When reached by THN.com Campbell-Pascall said that although she had been listed as a league governor, she had essentially been focusing on sponsorship for the past two years. She said there were a number of reasons for her resignation, which came on the heels of some very pointed comments to a Calgary radio station last week when she was asked to respond to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s recent comments about the future of the CWHL and National Women’s Hockey League, saying, “If those two leagues didn’t exist, we would probably start our own women’s league to work in conjunction with our existing clubs.”
Campbell said on a Calgary radio station that it’s time for the two leagues to do what is best for the women’s game. “To me it’s a no-brainer,” Campbell told Sportsnet 960 in Calgary. “Both commissioners (Andress and NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan) know what needs to happen. You have to point the finger at both commissioners. If I’m commissioner and I hear Gary Bettman finally come public and say those comments, what am I waiting for and what am I doing? For them not to be in a room every single day trying to figure out how this is supposed to happen, I don’t get it. To me, they’re both not doing their jobs. Wake up and get into a room for 24 hours, seven days a week, whatever it takes, and make this one and figure out a way you can do it.”
Coincidentally, Campbell-Pascall will be a part of Sportsnet’s broadcast crew for the Clarkson Cup final, which is being played between the Kunlun Red Star and Markham Thunder Sunday afternoon in Toronto. (The NWHL will also hold its final Sunday afternoon, with the Buffalo Beauts visiting the Metropolitan Riveters in Newark.) The leading scorer for Kunlun Red Star is Kelli Stack, one of a number of high-profile American players who jumped from the NWHL to the CWHL this season. In fact, U.S. Olympic hero Hilary Knight opted to sign with the Montreal Canadiennes after the Olympics. Alex Carpenter also signed with Kunlun Red Star and Meghan Bozek signed with Markham after they were cut by the U.S. Olympic team.
“People who follow women’s hockey and don’t see that as a red flag,” Campbell-Pascall told Sportsnet 960, “I don’t know when you’re ever going to see it. I don’t want to point fingers at one league or another, but the two commissioners, get into a room now, 24-7, figure this out.”
Campbell said she stepped down as a CWHL director more than two years ago and didn’t want to be a governor, but stayed on at the request of the league. Since then, she has basically been helping to secure sponsorships for the women’s league and has not worked in her official capacity as governor for the past two years. Campbell-Pascall said her comments “coincided with” her resignation as governor, but there were other reasons.
Campbell-Pascall also said she did not feel compelled to resign in order to more freely express her views about women’s hockey having one league, saying she had always felt comfortable opining on that subject. “Obviously when you’re a member of a board, there are certain things you can’t talk about,” she said. “There are meetings you have that are private. When (Bettman) made his comments public, I finally felt like I had an opportunity to say what needed to be said. There are a lot more people working behind the scenes than just myself. I don’t take any credit for stepping up and saying something and thinking you always make change. I think you make change by putting your work boots on and getting the job done.”