The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, October 16, 2020

Dani Rylan Kearney out, now what? — Interview with Meghan Duggan — Must-click links

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Dani Rylan Kearney out, now what?

Longtime readers should know that I’ve wondered out loud if the NWHL should move on from Dani Rylan Kearney. It’s not the most pleasant thing to talk about, but there does come a time when fresh eyes make for the brightest future.

At times, it’s safe to say the players in women’s hockey wondered the same thing. Rylan Kearney created the NWHL to offer a paid option for women’s hockey players when none existed. Then, to keep the NWHL afloat, she and the league drastically cut those salaries. For many — and understandably so — that left a sour taste in the mouths of players, specifically those on the North American national teams.

At the time, I was very much for the players voicing their opinions, negative or otherwise, about the salary cuts. Yet it must be noted: nearly four seasons later, the NWHL is still standing.

The news of the new governance model and the new role for Rylan Kearney is still fresh. Additionally, there are business decisions that — from the outside looking in — seem to have blurred with personal matters that have made the last 18 months or so toxic. It may take time to see what this new model means for the NWHL and women’s hockey more generally.

What I do believe now is what I have always believed, #OneLeague needs to be put out to pasture. There will be ultimately one senior-most or best-paid model for women’s hockey. However, I am not of the opinion that the NHL will support that model, and certainly not before the 2022 Olympics.

So, what does this mean for the PWHPA and the NWHL? Well, I’m not sure. I believe my last guesstimate was both can and will co-exist for another two hockey seasons. The PWHPA focused a lot on Rylan and a lack of faith in the NWHL business model when defecting.

With one gone and the other changing, it stands to reason that there could be a pathway forward where the two parties reconcile. That will take maturity that while frankly has not always been displayed with regularity.

There is no rush for the PWHPA to change its tune, especially since the majority of the NWHL teams (4 of 6) have not yet found private owners. Rylan Kearney will take on the role of doing just that. My sources indicate there is at least one solid offer on the table for one of the original four teams.

If I were a betting woman (I’m not, except when it comes to how much pizza in a week is too much, given I am lactose intolerant), I would say the announcement of the new governance model is a sign other owners have come to the bargaining table.

I spoke to Anya Packer about the impact the new model will have on the NWHL Players Association. You can listen to the interview over at the Founding 4 Podcast. I hope to speak to Ty Tumminia early next week.

One voice we have not heard from is the founder herself. Rylan was not made available for the New York Times article by Seth Berkman that broke the news (linked below), nor was she made upon my request. On the one hand, Rylan is not known to do much media, something I thought was an area for improvement for her and the NWHL. On the other hand, if her new position was her idea, I would certainly love to hear her thought process.

It has not been confirmed how the move to the new model and away from Rylan Kearney as commissioner came about. It is my opinion that WoHo fans should be open to never knowing the full story.

Regardless of the reason or Rylan Kearney’s involvement in the intermediate or long-term future, we all should tap our sticks to the woman who elevated women’s hockey to the next level.

Dani should you read this, I thank you for introducing me to hockey and for creating opportunities that were the springboard to many more in women’s sports. The road has not been smooth, it has not been easy, and it has not always been pretty. Nevertheless, you persisted.

We cannot always control how we are perceived at the moment, but it is my opinion that you will and that you should be remembered as a pioneer. Best of luck and congrats on your recent wedding. Many blessings to you and your husband Sean.

With appreciation,


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This Week in Women’s Hockey

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MORE COVERAGE FOR WOMEN IN SPORTS? Good, click these links and show decision-makers that if you post it, we will read it! If you have any hot tips for great stories or voices you’d like to see in The IX, email me:

Seth Berkman broke the NWHL governance news.

Marisa Ingemi got quotes from interim commissioner Ty Tumminia.

I spoke to Anya Packer about the new governance model and its impact on the NWHLPA.

The Black Girl Hockey Club is hosting the #GetUncomfortable virtual event tomorrow. Register and take the pledge!

USA Hockey names 53 players to their 2020 camp roster.

Hockey Canada posted the Our Voices, her future series. Other than a clear lack of representation, I enjoyed this!

Kelly Babstock traded from Toronto to the Riveters.

The Score names Angela Ruggiero to their Board of Directors.

Brianna Decker joins the Women’s Hockey Life podcast.

Who had the best goalie gear in the NWHL? Anne Torkarski with her list for The Ice Garden.

USA Hockey set to celebrate girls Weekend. The New York Islanders, Nashville Arizona Kachinas, and Nashville Predators are among the teams celebrating, virtually of course.

Meghan Duggan calls it a career. Meg Linehan, Emily Kaplan, and Mike Murphy offer coverage from her press conference earlier this week.

Duggan and Kacey Bellamy took over the USA Hockey Instagram account Thursday night. Check out the replay!

Preds Girls Hockey awarded $500,000 to grow girls hockey in Nashville, TN area.

Tweet of the Week

Congrats, captain!

Five at The IX: Meghan Duggan retires

Duggan gets a captain’s sendoff by USA Hockey. I linked to a few stories above, but here are some of my favorite quotes from the final hour of Duggan’s responsibilities to USA Hockey as a player.

Erika Lawler tells the Hooters story, lol:

Back when I met you when you even you were rolling up that Cushing Academy, I’m going to go for some Comic Relief here because I need it. When you pulled up in your Hooters t-shirt and you know you were just a feminist before your time and … I can’t wait to get George (Duggan’s son) one of those t-shirts someday just to remind him of you have that day.

You were so nervous on your way to the campus that day … you said you had to puke on the way there. But you roll up with your Hooters t-shirt Proud than, you know, and more confident than any kid I’ve ever seen, or any young girl I’ve ever seen in my life at that point.

I’m just so proud of this day for you, I couldn’t be more proud of the way that you have changed the game for the way that you have conducted yourself throughout it. It’s been so fun to watch you grow through every stage and every moment … just to watch you grow and develop into the amazing human being that you are and the things that you have done for this for you have left this game in such a better place than when where we found it.

I think my best friend was exactly that person that I needed to see, when I was growing up … and I cannot wait to see what you do. From here on out in life. USA hockey is gonna miss the crap out of you. I’m glad that I don’t have to miss you that much. Because you’re always in my life.

Duggan’s Opening Statement:

Thank you so much for those are some very great surprises and having those very important people in my life … I’ve learned so much from each one of you, individually and specifically. And those are things that that I will cherish dear for a very long time. Thanks to the media for being here today and for continuing to just share our team’s story share, my story. It’s a fun one and an exciting one to tell and it means a lot to our team and you know our program. And for USA hockey for just for giving me this platform today and again, just to tell my story and … continue to inspire, you know, the next generation of hockey players.

Today is an incredibly exciting day for my family and I but it’s also as you can imagine, still an emotional one. And something that I love feeling the emotion about because I’ve had a wonderful journey, a wonderful career. It’s been an incredible honor and a privilege to be put in a position to have the opportunities that I’ve had. I am beyond thankful and grateful for all those experiences. But above all else, the core of my experience is the people. All of the people that have helped me get to this point, everyone that has supported me along the way and encouraged me, and especially my teammates, my family, coaches, organizations, everyone that I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and has really helped to guide me in a direction and to really helped me learn, and helped me grow up through hockey, and challenged me in ways that maybe at the time, I didn’t know I needed to be challenged.

But the people in my life are at the core of my experience. And those relationships are what I will take with me forever. I’m certainly excited to decide and to figure out and to work towards what is next. And it has been a wonderful couple of days, spending time reflecting. I’m looking forward to continuing to share stories and answer questions, and have an exciting and emotional day here today.

Duggan on the best advice she’s ever received:

There’s certainly a lot of those conversations. There’s a lot of people that have played a major impact in my life. But I do think of a specific conversation or exchanges that I had with someone on this on this call in Cammi Granato back in March 2017. And, obviously, going through some adversity, and her advice was unity, you know, you have to stay united.

I think that’s such a wonderful theme for so many people to take with them and to move forward within all industries. I have always loved playing hockey because it’s a team sport. I love my teammates, I love doing things together. I love organizations I’ve been part of and things I’ve been able to work towards with a group. And to get the advice of stay united. People are always stronger when backed by other people – like I said, in any industry with any challenge – that’s just that’s great advice.

I’ve thought about that conversation and those exchanges a lot. And, you know, I want to continue to have unity in my life and whatever is next with my family, my friends, teammates, organizations, groups, I’m a part of. I think that’s really important, and something that I think about a lot.

Duggan on her time with the Buffalo Beauts, if she’d ever be involved in the NWHL, and if she plans to run for office (highly recommend watching this part):

Well, Frank, some great questions there. And thanks for calling in from Buffalo. What a wonderful city. I really enjoyed the fans and the people that I met there. And we did have some, some fantastic fans, you know, shout out to all the young girls, that was four years ago now that I played out there, but shout out to all the young girls that I met in my experience there and hope they’ve gone on to do wonderful things. Because I can vividly remember high-fiving a lot of hands and taking a lot of pictures with some great buffalo fans out there. So shout out to all of them.

I think right now being a member of the professional women’s hockey players Association, I’m not as much in tune with the logistics and everything going on in the National Women’s Hockey League. I think overall, my goal, as a hockey player, as someone that wants to inspire the next generation, and my dreams are that at some point in the future – we’re not there yet, anywhere – but my dream is that at some point in the future, young girls can have a career and make a living playing professional ice hockey. And there’s a lot of people working towards that right now. And I’m just, I’m excited that at some point, we will get there with all of the amazing minds working on that. And it will be wonderful to see. And I hope I hope I have a daughter that plays in it someday. I have a son right now, but hopefully, you know, my daughter can flourish in that way, sometime in the future.

And then for your last question. I mean, what’s next is, is a big question mark right now, and, and I’m excited to continue to work towards that and figure out what that is and dive in full force. But I’m unsure at this time.

Duggan on the growth of women’s sports:

I mentioned earlier, I actually think it was your question as well if I remember correctly (Author’s note: Yup, it was me both times, lol), but you know, the word unity and coming together I think it’s been wonderful to see just the interlacing support of the female athletes. I’ve loved following the WNBA, especially their recent playoffs. I loved following the women’s soccer team and their run, you know, both on the national level and professionally.

Being a part of the Women’s Sports Foundation athlete panel and on the Board of Trustees is an opportunity that I take a ton of pride in. And I’ve learned a lot in I have so much respect for that organization and everything that they do for girls and women in sports. In fact, you know, have the big gala coming up tomorrow night, which is going to be epic this year although virtual, I think it’s going to be one of the finest that we’ve seen and put on and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that.

But, women supporting women is the most incredible thing to see, I think and men supporting women and women supporting men is a wonderful thing as well. But, you know, as you mentioned, I think all of us continuing to, to share and to support and to get out there all the wonderful things that strong powerful women are doing specifically in sports is really important. And I know personally, I will continue to do all of that and be involved in all those aspects then. I’m sure I can speak on behalf of a lot of my teammates when I know that they’re passionate about that and we’ll continue to do that as well.

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 The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By Sarah Kellamm @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala