The National Women’s Hockey League has announced that the remainder of the 2021 NWHL season has been suspended. The announcement comes less than two weeks into the round-robin playoff format set up by the league. The rise in COVID-19 cases has spiked to levels that the league felt were too dangerous to continue play.
The cancelling of the season is not new to the NWHL. The 2020 Isobel Cup Finals were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Boston Pride and Minnesota Whitecaps were set to play in the final series when play was stopped. The Whitecaps were deemed the “champions” based on their record. The NWHL then decided to form a 24 game, round-robin tournament where all 6 league teams would play for seeding. The NWHL took a page out of the National Hockey League’s book and had a “bubble” setup in Lake Placid, New York. All games would take place at Herb Brooks Arena. The seedings would be decided by January 31, and the finals would be set for February 5, 2021.
The heartbreaking news of the cancelation gets even worse considering that, this year, the semifinals and finals would have been broadcast on national TV, with NBCSN picking up the games. This would have been an incredible opportunity for the NWHL to get some more recognition and have the pros put their talents on display for so many to see. But, just like everything else that has happened in these unprecedented times, there is always the chance at any moment that things could be shutdown.
What is next now for the NWHL? There has been no comment as of yet as to whether or not the playoffs will be rescheduled. Many hockey fans can only hope now. The National Women’s Hockey League is still young, founded only in 2015. All the league and players can do now is wait and hope to ride out the storm.
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