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Growing the Game: First All-Trans Hockey Tournament a Success

Ian Kennedy covers and analyzes the wider scope of hockey, including the first all-transgender hockey tournament, viewership of women's hockey and more.
Team Trans

Growing the Game is Ian Kennedy’s weekly feature examining the global game, how social issues impact the sport, and how hockey’s important cultural shift continues to evolve.

First All-Trans Hockey Tournament a Success

The first-ever All-Trans Draft Tournament took place last weekend hosted by Team Trans in Madison, Wis.

Team Trans is considered the world’s first-ever all-transgender hockey team, featuring notable professional hockey players including Harrison Browne and Jessica Platt at competitions in recent years.

The two-day tournament corresponded with Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20, and due to the recent shooting at an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs, the event was a mix of “joy” and “grief” for participants.

“The arena was just buzzing with trans joy for two solid days,” Team Trans tweeted following the event.

“We also had folks watching the doors, volunteers aware that they were our first defense if trouble came looking for us, all for the supposed crime of existing and living our lives as trans folks,” Team Trans’ thread continued. “We carried in our hearts the names of our siblings who’d died at the hands of transphobic murderers, our siblings who have died of suicide, our siblings who have died because some people believe that we deserve to die for living our truth.”

Following the event, the NHL itself tweeted support for the tournament saying, “The NHL is proud to support this past weekend's Team Trans Draft Tournament in Middleton, Wisconsin. This was the first tournament comprised entirely of transgender and nonbinary players, with around 80 folks participating.”

The league also responded to bigoted replies to the social media post asserting “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Nonbinary identity is real.”

Team Trans was founded in 2019. Transgender Day of Remembrance started in 1999 and “honors the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.”

Attendance, Viewership Continue to Rise for Women’s Hockey

The recent Rivalry Series between Team Canada and Team USA women’s national teams set an all-time attendance record for a women’s hockey game in America. Game 3 of the series brought in 14,551 fans to Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. It broke the 2019-20 record of 13,320 set in Anaheim.

It’s a global trend of attendance and viewership that continues to demonstrate the desire for women’s hockey on a larger scale. Last season, Lulea of the Swedish league set a European women’s record by drawing a sold-out 7,765 for their championship game against Brynas.

Similarly, the 2022 women’s Olympic final between Canada and USA saw 3.54 million viewers tune in on NBC, a number higher than any NHL regular season game on the network, and was topped only by one playoff game, the Stanley Cup-clinching game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.

The trend bodes well for the PWHPA’s proposed professional women’s league as well as the growth of the PHF. With Seattle’s obvious interest in the women’s game, perhaps the NHL’s newest city will also boast a professional women’s hockey team at Climate Pledge Arena in the near future.

Who’s Next to the Hall?

The inclusion of Herb Carnegie into the Hockey Hall of Fame was an incredible step this year. There are calls, however, for more diversity in the Hall of Fame including more women and more people of colour.

With that in mind, who are the next logical hockey legends to join the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Larry Kwong and Taffy Abel come to mind as two people of colour who could and should join Carnegie in the Hall of Fame. Abel was the first Indigenous hockey player to compete in the NHL, breaking the league’s color barrier in 1926. He won two Stanley Cups and an Olympic silver medal, captaining Team USA in 1924. Abel played his entire NHL career concealing his Indigenous identity fearing his career would end due to discrimination and racism.

Kwong was long thought to be the individual to break the NHL’s color barrier in 1948 when he played a single shift for the New York Rangers. Kwong, who is Chinese Canadian, was the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL. Similar to Carnegie, Kwong was a star outside of the NHL earning MVP honours in Quebec’s senior league, and winning a national title while playing against the likes of Jean Beliveau and Jacques Plante.

On the women’s side, the list is long of overqualified candidates after Riikka Sallinen became just the ninth woman inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. In future years, the Hall of Fame could recognize many worthy women including Caroline Ouellette, Vicky Sunohara, Hilda Ranscombe, Fran Rider and Julie Chu among others.

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