NWHL vs. Barstool
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One Big Thing: NWHL vs. Barstool
What’s Happening: The National Women’s Hockey League’s two-week season has begun, and it’s turning out to be quite a whirlwind. Each of the six teams are in the middle of playing five games over the course of just eight days. The playoffs start on Sunday, and the Isobel Cup Semifinals and Final will take place next Thursday and Friday, February 4 and 5. It’s dizzying, but a necessary opportunity to showcase women’s hockey. Last season was cut short because of the pandemic.
Herb Brooks Arena; Lake Placid, NY | @adj_lighting
The Big Picture: The NWHL is quarantined in a very contained environment around Lake Placid, New York. It’s using the same playbook as the NBA did last year in its Disney World bubble. Players, staff, and coaches can move between the arena and a hotel. Luckily, the arena isn’t just any old rink. It’s the Herb Brooks Arena, where the 1980 U.S. Olympic “Miracle on Ice” occurred.
Time to Shine: The Isobel Cup finals will be broadcast on NBC’s Sports Network, a big deal for the NWHL. The teams will have to work hard to get there — those in the finals will likely play nine games in just two weeks. “It’s really going to be who is going to be the last team standing, who’s going to have the legs, who’s going to have the heart when it comes down to it in the end,” said Jillian Dempsey, captain of the Boston Pride.
Face-off with Barstool: Earlier this week, the NWHL criticized the CEO of Barstool Sports, Erika Nardini, saying a video Nardini released could lead to the targeting and harassment of women’s hockey supporters and journalists. "There is no circumstance where it would be acceptable to call out many of the reporters, staff members and fans who have given so much to women's hockey, especially knowing that these people could be targeted or harassed on social media," read a statement from NWHL commissioner Tyler Tumminia.
Token CEO @tokenCEOImportant message to the @EKANardini haters: https://t.co/3qU0BqgggH
What’s Next: NWHL players have been preparing over Zoom to enter the bubble, and now, their long-awaited season is finally here. After the first few games this week, players were jubilant. They’d waited almost a year to play together again. The NWHL is ready for its moment in the spotlight.
Insider Updates & Analysis
Breaking: Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford stunned the NHL Wednesday, resigning from his post due to personal reasons. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan writes, “In a news conference later Wednesday, Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said he was shocked by Rutherford's decision. The two talked Tuesday night and again Wednesday, but Rutherford ‘had made his mind up,’ according to Morehouse.”
Update: Savannah, Ga. will have an ECHL team starting in 2022.
Update: Wayne Gretzky turned 60 on Tuesday.
Update: Seattle Kraken name John Forslund first broadcaster in franchise history.
Update: The entire Golden Knights coaching staff is in quarantine, meaning GM Kelly McCrimmon will be behind the bench.
A Question for the Peanut Gallery
Who will take home the NWHL title?