The Canadian Women’s Hockey League will shut down May 1, the league announced Sunday, leaving North America with a single pro hockey league for women.
A week after the Calgary Inferno won the league championship, the CWHL said in Toronto that the 12-year-old league can’t survive.
“Unfortunately, while the on-ice hockey is exceptional, the business model has proven to be economically unsustainable,” the league said in a statement.
The CWHL was founded in 2007 and had six teams in North America and China this past season.
The CWHL, which owns the teams in the league, lost a major financial backer in November when Graeme Roustan withdrew the sponsorship of his venture capital firm Roustan Capital.
The National Women’s Hockey League, with five teams based in the United States, remains an option for women pros. The Minnesota Whitecaps won the NWHL title in March.
In a statement, NWHL commissioner and founder Dani Rylan assured fans the NWHL is committed to playing next season and that efforts were being made to attract the CWHL’s best players to the U.S. league.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in September that the NHL was interested in running a women’s hockey league but that he didn’t want the NHL to “look like a bully” when there were existing leagues. In an e-mail to the Associated Press on Sunday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly echoed that.
Meantime, players in Canada wondered about the future. Blayre Turnbull and Marie-Philip Poulin, forwards from the CWHL, posted identical reaction on Twitter:
“We will do our best to find a solution so this isn’t our last season of hockey but it’s hard to remain optimistic,” they said.