She hasn’t signed a contract to make it official, but Hilary Knight said she’s leaving the CWHL and will be part of the NWHL next season. Knight, 26, spent the past three seasons with the CWHL’s Boston Blades, but there’s a chance she could be leaving Beantown in the 2015-16 season.
Being that she’s one of the greatest women’s players in the world, Hilary Knight has almost all her options available when it comes to women’s club teams to play for. And it appears she’s made the first big choice.
It has long been speculated that Knight would be leaving the CWHL’s Boston Blades to play in the burgeoning NWHL, especially after she joined NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan at the league’s launch party and on Sports Illustrated’s SI Now promoting the league. However, there had yet to be confirmation Knight would head to the NWHL. Until Tuesday, that is.
In an article about the new women’s league published by New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut,’ Knight was asked about what her future would hold and confirmed that she would be NWHL bound.
Now, the only question is where, exactly, Knight will sign. There are only five days remaining before the NWHL’s free agency period ends on Aug. 17, so a deal is likely imminent, but there hasn’t been rumors about which team the two-time Olympian will join.
It seems obvious, however, that Knight won’t be joining either the Buffalo Beauts or Connecticut Whale. While both teams would, in all likelihood, offer her the same amount of salary, neither could give her the exposure that playing with the Boston Pride or New York Riveters offers.
In Boston, there’s an obvious connection. Knight, 26, has spent the past three seasons playing for the CWHL’s Blades. She averaged more than a point and a half over her 41 games in the CWHL and won the Clarkson Cup with the Blades in 2014-15. She is the face of women’s hockey in Boston.
But New York can offer Knight the chance to align herself further with Rylan, who is both commissioner and the GM of the Riveters. The league is headquartered in New York and when it comes to promotion, Knight will likely want to be at the forefront and help grow the league. There’s reason to believe she can do that better in a media mecca like the Big Apple. Beyond growing the league, though, there’s also the more obvious things like playing with familiar teammates.
Janine Weber made history as the first NWHL signee when she inked a contract with the Riveters June 11. It just so happens that Weber spent last season with the Boston Blades, too, where she scored the Clarkson Cup winning goal in overtime. For Knight, that would offer a familiar face to play alongside. That said, Boston would offer the most familiarity, with several CWHL players, including Blades leaders such as Jillian Dempsey, Jordan Smelker and Rachel Llanes, making the jump over to play for the NWHL’s Pride.
It’s likely a two-horse race for Knight’s services. Wherever Knight lands, however, she’ll become the face of the league, and that’s exactly what the NWHL had to have been hoping for.