In thrilling news for elite women's hockey and young women playing the game at all levels, the Montreal Canadiens strengthened the NHL's connection to the Canadian Women's Hockey League Thursday by announcing a partnership with the league's most successful team, the Montreal Stars.
"With the growing popularity of women's hockey over the last decade, I think this is the right time to concretely support women who play professional hockey, and, at the same time, promote the sport among up-and-coming players," Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a news release.
“Entering into a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens affords the CWHL an opportunity to grow women’s hockey hand in hand with one of the most storied franchises in professional sport,” added Brenda Andress, CWHL commissioner. “Female hockey players in Quebec and around the world, along with fans of the CWHL, will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the work we do together.”
The Stars are the third of the CWHL's five current teams to receive support from an NHL franchise: since 2012, the Toronto Furies receive $30,000 annually from the Toronto Maple Leafs to help offset the costs of travel, uniforms and equipment; and for the same duration, the Calgary Flames have worked with the Calgary Inferno on a number of fronts, including branding and marketing.
Since the league's inception in 2007, the Stars – whose lineup this season included Olympians Charline Labonté, Caroline Ouellette and Julie Chu – have won three Clarkson Cup championships, including the inaugural trophy and consecutive wins in 2011 and 2012, and lost in this year's final to the Boston Blades. Given that the Canadiens are the NHL's most successful franchise, the new partnership with the Stars seems especially appropriate.
Kudos to the Habs for backing a professional league young women can aspire to play in, or simply, to watch and enjoy.