The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, November 27, 2020

WE HAVE A NWHL BUBBLE — Interview with Whitney Dove — Must-click women's hockey links

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NWHL Bubble?

Right before the holiday, the NWHL announced plans to play the 2021 season at a single site. The season will take place at the historic Herb Brooks Arena, most famous for 1980’s Miracle on Ice.

Like everything else during a worldwide pandemic there is lots of excitement, lots of unknowns, and lots of opinions. I did a live stream to discuss some of my thoughts and I’ll offer a few more here for our subscribers.

A single site is the only sensible thing to do if we must have sports

I am gutted about what is happening in the NCAA right now. I have never been a fan of the “some people are just going to get COVID” approach to the return to sports. It’s the most irresponsible way to approach what we’re all going through. So the NWHL settling in on the single site model offers some comfort.

Of course, now we need a name for the NWHL bubble. What is your top choice for a name?

Only five games per team?!

I remember thinking it was tragic to see the WNBA and NWSL play a shortened season, but 5 games per team seems WILD to me, especially since I am convinced I am still recovering from the whiplash pace of the WNBA season. Granted, there are fewer teams, but it’s still going to be a sprint to the Isobel Cup.

Games will begin on January 23 and the Isobel Cup Final will be held on February 5.

Bubbles only work as well as the protocols are enforced

We still don’t know anything about these protocols, but there have been positive tests in the NWHL, per Dan Rice. The quarantine period for the teams upon arrival is at most 48 hours, but could be less. Per the release about the single site season, teams will arrive

“in a staggered schedule on Jan. 21 and 22. Beginning Jan. 23, they will each play five games (one against each team in the league), followed by a playoff round that will determine the four teams advancing to the Isobel Cup Semifinals.”

I’d be curious to learn more about the pre-Lake Placid testing and/or quarantine protocol. I’d also like to know if the NWHL will ensure there are no positive or in conclusive tests prior to every game.

We saw that an inconclusive test in the WNBA halted Game 1 of the semifinals between the Seattle Storm & the Minnesota Lynx. We also saw that a Justin Turner had a positive test during the World Series and the second test was a confirmed positive in the second inning of the deciding game. Turner was not pulled until much later in the game AND THEN RETURNED SANS MASK for the celebration.

All signed players will be paid for the season, even if they opt out

Per the release,

“All of the professional players who signed contracts this year for the NWHL season will be compensated in full, despite the condensed game schedule. Players were given the opportunity to opt-out of the tournament and still receive their complete salaries. At this date, more than 95 percent of the players have committed to the competition, giving each team a full playing roster …”

I spoke to Anya Packer about what she learned from other women’s leagues who played during the pandemic.

Apparently, she and the NWHL Players Association followed in the NWSL’s footsteps — as opposed to the WNBA, who did not offer salaries to any player that was not medically cleared to forgo the bubble season.

We still have a long way to go before the puck drops

COVID-19 has proven that it doesn’t care about our best-laid plans. Regardless of decisions by the Supreme Court or coaches ranting about COVID cancellations, this is a serious matter.

We can love sports, hate the delays in sport, AND be smart and kind about this deadly virus. At any sign of trouble, I’d rather not do that hockey.

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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:

Must-Click Links:

Kendall Coyne Schofield makes history with the Chicago Blackhawks.

PWHPA Toronto has a new name and a new look!

NWHL is headed to Lake Placid!

NCAA Women’s DI Hockey returned with a bang! Nicole Haase has the recap.

Ten Questions with #10 Meghan Duggan.

Former Beauts and current PWHPA players discuss the future of women’s hockey.

Ohio State ready for home opener.

Samantha Ridgewell on joining the Toronto Six.

Penn State and the CHA prepare to take to the ice.

Beauts will be back in Black!

Upcoming Events

  • December 2 – Disabled Hockey Week Q&A with the Seattle Kraken

December 15: Playing Defense: Strategy & Tactics featuring Rebecca Morse

COVID Updates:

Holy Cross shuts down hockey activities

UMaine shuts down winter sports after several positive cases on campus, including individuals involved with athletics department

CHA Champions Mercyhurst announce December slate and COVID guidelines (no fans)

Tweet of the Week

That time Madison Packer gave me heart palpitations.

Five at The IX: Whitney Dove talks Thanksgiving & More

Buffalo Beauts rookie defender Whitney Dove discusses her favorite part about Thanksgiving and the December holiday season.

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 Kellam @sarahkellam, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala