The IX: Hockey Friday w/ Erica L. Ayala, January 24, 2020

The fourth box - Interview with Shelly Picard - Must-click links

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The fourth box

Hey WoHo fans!

Lots of exciting things happening in the women’s hockey space. Brian Durocher reached 300 career wins. Quinnipiac made the national poll. The Boston Pride are 19-0. The ECHL hosted PWHPA players in their All-Star Game in Kansas. It was a GOOD week!

Additionally, tonight the NHL will feature members of the US and Canadian teams for a women’s 3-on-3 game. I heard rumors of the game a few months ago and I still have several questions, but ultimately it’s another opportunity to showcase women’s ice hockey.

The PWHPA is promoting the 3v3 game, since all players attending are PWHPA members. However, I will the entire PW membership would have also promoted the ECHL game. Unlike the NHL event, the women played alongside the ECHL All-Stars.

Lots of people have criticized the NHL event as tokenism. I’m not picking up that mantle, neither to celebrate nor crucify the model. What I wills ay is, a condensed 20-minute 3v3 women’s game is neither equitable or equal.

For me, the ECHL game was closer to equality (all players in the same game), but missed the mark in regard to equity (more women in the ASG could have potentially done that, but the metaphor isn’t perfect for that scenario).

What the NHL is doing might be akin to “separate and unequal”. The women are at the same venue — on the same bus/train, so to speak — but are not given equal or equitable opportunities to compete

As we can see from the image below, giving the women in hockey a platform at the NNHL All-Star Weekend is not the same as equity or liberation from antiquated ways of thinking.

Right now, WoHo is trying to figure out the fourth box. What will the future of the game look like? How will we build from Title IX, inclusion in the Olympics, the birth of NCAA Division I hockey, and multiple version of a post-graduate league?

The NWHL has its imperfect model and the PWHPA is a model lying in wait. The college game is a reminder of what can be with (alleged) equal funding, but also that there is more to be desired. Women’s sports at the college level are not equally marketed.

Images from

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Briana Mastel joined the Founding 4 Podcast to discuss the 19-0 Boston Pride, #TakeTheLead, and more.

The Pittsburgh Penguins & Black Girl Hockey Club are holding a screening of Soul on Ice: Past, Present, Future on February 1. The event is FREE and I’ll be moderating the panel. Register HERE.

Hockey Canada roster for Rivalry Series unveiled.

Quinnipiac cracks the top 10 in the national poll for the first time this season.

Great Q&A with PWHPA Player Board rep Alyssa Gagliardi.

Women get spotlight, but no prize money writes Seth Berkman.

Boston University head coach Brian Dorocher gets his 300th win. He joined the Coach Jones Podcast to discuss the win over Holy Cross. Here is our interview with Coach Durocher from November.

The Ice Garden recaps the PWHPA participation at the ECHL All-Star Game.

Hear the Cappy Origin Story on a bonus episode of the Founding 4 Podcast.

Women’s players hope NHL All-Star Weekend helps their cause.

As WNBA boosts pay, women’s hockey players see path forward.

Tweet of the Week

We can stand up to racism and hate speech every day. Tell me what you will do to #TakeTheLead

Five at The IX: Shelly Picard

Last month, Michelle “Shelly” Picard was named the new NWHL Deputy Director/Director of Player Development. I spoke with the 2014 Olympian and 2018 Isobel Cup champion.

You’re the second-ever NWHL deputy commissioner … it’s kind of a two-for-one, it sounds like. Deputy Commissioner & Director of player development. So what does that actually look like day-to-day?

Right now it’s a lot of communication with the GMs of the different teams, staying in touch with them, trying to keep a pulse on what’s going on, and being a support for them if they need anything. And sort of being a go between between the teams and Dani. I’m just trying to support wherever I can Right now, it’s a lot of learning on my end, but hopefully going forward … the idea is that I take the training wheels off and can be a big support to the GMS.

And then as far as like the player development side of things, it’s listening to the GMs and the Players Association about what they’re wants are? What could be helpful and how I can support players? Then also working with Dani and other members of the front office about what we can do to better provide for our players and make sure that they’re getting the support that they need … those are the sort of two parts of the main main parts of my my job.

I want to also talk about you that decision again to, it seems like retire. So let me ask first of all, are you officially retired?

I struggle to use the word rich tire. Yeah. But I am not playing and I don’t have any intentions to play again.

Okay, so just shy of retired.

Yes (laughs).

Even asking a pretty straightforward question. I could tell that was something that is still hard for you. So, you know, I think that the timing of everything. How much did that play into your decision? You finished out the season with the Riveters. You were also with the US national team. You went to the IIHF World Championships, but right before all of the athletes left for worlds, we got the news that the CWHL closed and … that ultimately led to the #ForTheGame movement. So that was all happening in a very short amount of time.

Yeah, it was I mean, it was shocking to hear that news. And it was also it was it was it was just sort of like, because it came out of nowhere just like, oh my goodness, you know, what is happening? Why did it happen? How did this happen? What does this mean for the the bigger scope of things?

So, for me, I guess, uneasiness is the right word … I’m feeling for … teammates on the national team who played in the CWHL. So like, you know, (I was) feeling bad for them and how they found out.

But then we left for Worlds and so it’s sort of able to like, put that on the back burner. I had a really good excuse for two weeks to just not think about it, not deal with it and just play hockey.

And then coming back I (was trying) to trying to figure out what I wanted to do and what was right for me just as a person. With all the different things going on in the women’s hockey world, but then also myself of like really enjoying coaching and trying to decide if I want to dive into that … I sort of decided that I wanted to go wholeheartedly into coaching. And so that was my decision at that point, and in the summer, I think I forget exactly when I you know when that happened for me, but at some point over the summer, I was just like, I’m just gonna focus on my coaching because I really enjoy that.

So we we know that again at you were with the national team at the time the #ForTheGame movement sparked. And then that has evolved to the PWHPA. You know, that is something that, you know, with the rest of the national team is something that you committed to. What was the process like for you to go from that to ultimately deciding to retire and focus on coaching?

Yeah, I mean, it was a very confusing time. Absolutely. And just trying to figure out, “Okay, what is what is the right thing to do?” And, everybody had their own opinions on things and just trying to navigate all the different things that you were hearing. And even for myself, like trying to get answers and trying to figure out what the right thing was for me to do, regardless of what other players were doing and what other people were saying.

And so, yeah, originally was a part of the players who were saying they weren’t gonna play. Then as time went on, (I was) still trying to gather more information, I was still not really sure. And then that’s sort of when I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna take the step back, just focus on coaching and maybe things will start to become clear and I can make a more wholehearted decision about what I wanted to do.”

And as time went on, I was able to reflect on my time in the NWHL and all that I had provided for me and sort of realizing that I personally had no issues with the NWHL … I sort of had this change of heart and said, “You know what? I want to be a part of this. Yeah, maybe right now the league … it’s in a place where some people don’t want to be a part of it. And that’s okay. But we want to put the work in to make it a league that players do want to be a part of and are proud to be a part of.

I think the social media back back and forth, can make the picture seem a little bit divisive. And I do want to ask you, do you Do you feel that that is an appropriate depiction of what is happening? I mean, you obviously are in communication with NWHL players, you have teammates that have played in PWHPA showcases and are on the board there. What’s your take on on kind of that rift that seems to be prominent when we look on social media?

I think it’s just way too complicated of a situation for there to be just two sides or straightforward opinions and thoughts and, and so I think it’s just too simplistic to think about it like one side or the other and I think the people that are all involved have very different — whether they play for the NWHL or they’re a part of the PWHPA — I think there’s varying thoughts about where we are and how we can move forward.

And so I think it’s just too complicated. For me, I think it was all about all of us figuring it out and respecting the players decision to be a part of the PWHPA and knowing that it’s because right now, women’s hockey, we’re not in a place where we want to be. And so, how do we get to the place where we want to be?

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon  Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala