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Why a Canadian legend walked away on the verge of her Olympic dream

Missing the certainty of yesterday but emboldened by the potential of tomorrow, Krystina Alogbo is embracing a new challenge.

At her teammate’s house in Verona, Italy for the sake of better internet — a site known most famously as the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — Alogbo is relaxed and seated with a Monet-like setting behind her, a sailboat calmly floating along the river. Her playing career heading off into the sunset, with many dreams accomplished and injuries having taken their toll, a normal life and financial security in the afterlife of an athlete is top of mind.

Now acting as a player-coach for CSS Verona in the twilight of her playing days, Alogbo’s glittery 16-year international career at water polo’s highest level ends without an Olympic appearance. After guiding the Canadian women’s national team to a spot in the Tokyo Olympics as captain in 2019, health and COVID-19 emerged victorious as the postponement due to the global pandemic saw Alogbo suddenly announce her retirement in August, a month after she was supposed to achieve that dream.

“It wasn’t a relief because it was still a shock,” Alogbo said after revealing she spent months debating the decision. “It is 15 years of my life, it took a couple months to even come to that decision and actually realizing it was another thing because I was here [in Verona], the relief — it didn’t happen for a while. I can’t even tell you if I’m okay yet because I’ve talked to many ex-teammates of mine and it took a lot of time for them to get back on the saddle and getting into their new life and careers so I don’t think it’s that easy. No matter what way you go, there’s always that part of you that is missing.”

How does one of the best players in the game move on from missing out on her biggest goal despite accomplishments that can fill a room? Alogbo staked her claim as one of the future faces of women’s water polo when she won MVP at the 2003 FINA world junior championships where Canada won gold, won MVP of the senior world championships in 2009 as Canada were forced to settle for silver, was named Water Polo Player of the Year by Swimming World Magazine in 2011 and steadily pushed the nation to greater heights over the past decade. With all the accolades she’s received over the years, there will always be one dream she cherished that will remain unfulfilled.

It seems a cruel and abrupt end to an illustrious international career, but in the life of an athlete, Father Time is a constant whose reality has only been accelerated by a global pandemic.


Alogbo was named player of the year by Swimming World Magazine in 2011. (Reuters)

Discovery

In Italy they call her Il Coccodrillo, which translates to the crocodile: ferocious, powerful, and always ready to pounce. She has only been there the past couple of years, but the traits with which she began the pursuit of a water polo career are the ones that hold true to this day.

“All my kids have been very athletic,” Simone, Alogbo’s mother, said about her three sons and two daughters who she raised as a single mother in Montreal working as a credit manager. “The boys were really good and they played soccer – she’s also very good at soccer, by the way. If they ever had to pick between her and any boy, they would pick her, they never feared picking her and they were older than her. To them, she was one of the boys.”

Alogbo developed a love for water polo right from when she began playing at the age of eight, providing early signs of the aggressive, energetic, and vocal leader she would become. Always looking to make an impression, she quickly began training at CAMO — a water polo club for Canada’s best in Montreal. The senior national team used to train there as well, and so she soaked in all she could as they prepped to qualify for the first-ever women’s water polo Olympic event in 2000.

Signing up for every event possible as a goal judge or ball girl to be as close as possible to the action and to stars such as Sandra Lize and Cora Campbell, Alogbo made a point of being the first one there and the last one to leave. She grabbed every opportunity to absorb lessons from the players, but it was the teachings of Daniel Berthelette that guided her from passion and raw talent to the complete player.


Krystina Alogbo, middle left, appears with her childhood swim team, made up of siblings and cousins. (Courtesy Alogbo family)

‘Born to play this game’

Regarded as one of Canada’s great coaches in the sport, Berthelette was a former head coach of the Canadian women’s team and led them to qualification in 2000, won gold at the ’99 Pan Am Games, and silver at the ’91 world championships, not to mention several national championships with CAMO. He had a gut feeling about Alogbo from the first time he saw her and so when things weren’t easy, he made sure to fight for her.

“When she was young, I told her mom, ‘Your daughter was born to play this game,'” Berthelette said.

In 2001 and 2002, Alogbo had a bit of a struggle connecting with some of the coaches on the junior national team. They didn’t take kindly to her strong personality, but Berthelette fought to convince them that it was all part of what made her tick and would also help the Canadian team find a new level.

“We had to sell that that personality she had could put a gold medal around the neck of the coach,” Berthelette said. “You saw right away that her game sense was there at a very, very young age. These are the type of athletes when you coach as long as I did, they’re born once every 10 years.”

These are the type of athletes when you coach as long as I did, they’re born once every 10 years.– Daniel Berthelette

Alogbo was demanding of herself from a young age and so did the same of everyone around her. Perhaps that wasn’t for everyone, and Patrick Oaten, a former head coach of Canada, was the man who needed some convincing. Fortunately, Berthelette’s words proving prophetic would be all the convincing he’d need.

Alogbo was a girl possessed at the junior world championships in Calgary in 2003, scoring at will and playing her best when it mattered most. After a strong team performance against Spain in the semifinals, Alogbo virtually single-handedly kept Canada in the hunt for gold against the U.S., scoring all three Canadian goals to stay level in regulation. With nothing left to separate the two sides, it was a shootout that would be the difference, where Alogbo converted the winning shot. MVP was a foregone conclusion, but Alogbo’s lasting memory from the tournament is what everyone around her, including the fans, made her feel.

“Right then, the country made us feel like we were already at the Olympic Games,” Alogbo said. “We were at a high level where it didn’t feel like it was just a junior worlds. When you look back as a 35-year-old you say, okay, junior worlds and senior worlds are completely different, but at that moment, the whole community, all of Canada did not make us feel like it was just a junior worlds …

“Winning against the Americans and everyone jumping in [the pool]. All the staff, the subs, the alternates, the three coaches including my mentor, Dan, they were all in the water. I think that was the best feeling knowing exactly what it meant. It wasn’t one person that won, it was all these people in the water that made this moment happen.”


Daniel Berthelette, then coach of the team, joins the celebration in the pool after the team defeated the U.S. to win gold at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Decision

That was the perfect beginning and after all the personal accolades and team accomplishments along the way, Alogbo’s international career looked set for the perfect ending as well. After bitter disappointments in failing to qualify for the Olympics in 2008, 2012 and 2016, Tokyo was set to be the last stop after Canada claimed their spot with a silver medal at the 2019 Pan Am Games.

The last time Canada’s women qualified for the showcase event was 2004, but her passion for the Olympics stemmed from hours upon hours sitting and watching everything from the opening ceremony to the different competitions to the closing ceremony with her mother. Simone can remember her daughter had “Olympian” as her dream accomplishment in her high school yearbook. It’s all she’s ever wanted within the prism of her athletic career.

“The word ‘Olympic’ to me started way before even knowing what sport I chose,” Alogbo said. “I was a kid and my mom is like the biggest fan of the Olympic Games. Her favourite is the opening ceremonies, from the get-go she’s all about it. We were mainly watching the Winter Olympics at that time because I know figure skating was a big one that my mom loves to watch.

“We were always glued to the TV when the Olympics were on and also the Summer Games, I remember all the names like Donovan (Bailey). My mom made us passionate about those games.”

The little kid inside her yearned for the moment, but the world and Alogbo’s body said no. In February last year, Alogbo was already confronted with the consequences of the pandemic as Italy was one of the countries hardest hit. She had to fly out to Montreal for training camp with the national team – after initial plans to train in Hungary were scrapped – not knowing what to expect and left behind everything, including her beloved 11-year-old Yorkshire chihuahua.


Emma Wright is one of the young stars of Canada’s team who says she is grateful for her opportunity to learn from Alogbo. (Associated Press)

Something wasn’t quite right

She got home before North America felt its first COVID-19 reverberations, and the first ripple toward retirement soon followed. With the chance to be back home and spend time with family, Alogbo made dinner plans with Berthelette. Her mentor for more than two decades, he could tell something wasn’t quite right and this was going to be more than a belated celebration of her birthday.

After a long day of helping her mother, Alogbo and Berthelette decided to unwind the best way they knew how. They went to the Boston Pizza in Anjou, Que., around 8 p.m. at night, had a round of beers, uncorked a bottle of wine, checked in on each other’s health, both mental and physical, reminisced about old results accomplished together, and what the future may bring. And that’s when Alogbo let out a bombshell: On the verge of making her Olympic debut after 15 years representing the nation at the highest level, three herniated discs in her neck had her contemplating retirement.

“Knowing that I hurt myself badly with my neck and having a hard time to grasp all that, and having a hard time seeing my lasting until the end of July,” Alogbo said about what led to the discussion. “That point was a very crucial moment for my family, lots of things happened and he was there for me, he’s always been like a father to me.”

Berthelette detailed the decisions he made over the course of his life and true to his straight-shooting style, asked honestly about how seriously Alogbo had thought about life beyond her playing career. She admitted she hadn’t given it too much thought but knew that having a “normal life” was a desire, being able to walk up the stairs or just go to sleep at night without her hands going numb. Berthelette’s advice was to weigh the pros and cons of everything and write it down.

Knowing that I hurt myself badly with my neck … and having a hard time seeing my lasting until the end of July.– Krystina Alogbo on her decision

“Once you finish writing everything down, your mind is going to be clear because when you just think, think, think, it’s not the same,” Berthelette said. “It’s easier for you as a human being. Measure everything because one day when you wake up you’ll regret over things you didn’t think of before.”

Their conversation lasted into the early morning, and Alogbo came away thinking she had what it took to keep battling for another seven months. She spoke with national team doctors at the camp, spoke with her CSS Verona’s doctors when she came back, got MRIs done and received three cortisone shots to her neck. There was a shoulder problem as well, but the hope was that addressing the neck would help all around, but the other challenge was that returning to Verona where a lockdown was in place meant that she was rehabbing on her own. There was guidance from trainers on what she needed to do and her roommate would try to help out, but the makeshift rehab certainly made recovery more difficult.

Then in March, the Canadian Olympic Committee announced it would not send athletes to Tokyo if the Olympics weren’t postponed by at least a year. Her dream was quickly unravelling but Alogbo – having seen what some of her teammates in Verona were forced to contend with – understood what was happening around her rightly took precedent.

“The fact that Canada was the first of all nations to do that, I think showed a lot of strength and unity for the world crisis,” Alogbo said. “I was proud, because usually Canada just follows into big movements like that. It’s a weird thing to say, I was proud for that movement. I had friends here [Italy], they were going through a lot of drastic things and grandparents, people dying and just their country being so demoralized and locked down and all that. Just seeing the struggles in the world, it was bigger than just us and our own big dreams.”

The eventual postponement of the Olympics by a year crystallized what Alogbo needed to do. In August, she went to the ranch in Montreal where the national team trains with her mind made up and some members of the team already aware of what was coming. After a morning practice, the team was together for a meeting discussing philosophies of the team when Alogbo let them know they would be without their longest-serving member and would need a new captain for the Olympics.


Alogbo is now a player/coach with CSS Verona in Italy. (Getty Images)

“Emotion, tears, hugs – from her teammates and her,” head coach David Paradelo said about the team’s reaction. “I shared, I shed a tear, too. She’s not only been a part of the program, she’s built the program. She’s been a builder in this adventure and it’s sad when you see someone go.”

Paradelo has seen the rise of Alogbo firsthand. He was one of those boys who competed with and against her when he was around eight years old and she was a year younger. They got to know each other better around the age of 12, played together at CAMO until about the ages of 14 (competition was co-ed until then) and had the privilege of coaching her while also being able to lean on her leadership and captaincy. With that tightly knit relationship, it wasn’t a total surprise when he found out Alogbo decided her time was up.

“It was a shock in that you always hope it’s not going to happen,” Paradelo said. “You also hope for the best for each and every athlete and at that point in time that was the better option for Krys in terms of her physical and mental health.”

Legacy

A superstar’s legacy is often defined by leaving the sport in a better place than where it was when they first arrived, and a big part of why Alogbo feels some comfort in making her departure from the international scene is seeing the current crop of talent that’s ready to take Canadian women’s water polo forward. Young stars like Elyse Lemay-Lavoie and Emma Wright have emerged to play key roles in helping the side qualify for the Olympics, and while both have been presented the challenge of filling the void left by Alogbo by playing the centre forward position now, Wright has had to transition from the left side of the pool.

“We have a lot of shooters, a lot of great shooters,” Alogbo said. “But when the tough gets going, you gotta get some people playing in the centre, the hole as we call it. It was a lot of, ‘Listen, you gotta push through it, push through the pain, fight harder,’ and they worked hard. They’re ready for it, I know they sometimes underestimate themselves, but who doesn’t at that age?”

Wright’s first interaction with Alogbo came as a 13-year-old at her first national team tryout in the summer of 2011. Hoping to make the junior Pan American team, the senior team was also in the building preparing for the world championships and their pool times had aligned for a scrimmage. Alogbo guarded Wright at one point, and like any inexperienced athlete, Wright was terrified and consumed by how little she knew compared to the face of the senior team.

WATCH | Alogbo and Canadian team vs Netherlands:

Watch coverage of the 2019 World Aquatic Championships Gwangju, South Korea. 1:06:50

It wasn’t long, though, before the two were on the same side as Wright – a teenage star herself – joined the senior team a couple of years later. At 16, she was the youngest member of the 2013 world championships senior squad and became a fixture thereafter. With the added experience under her belt and now being able to observe and learn from Alogbo on a regular basis, Wright could genuinely appreciate everything Alogbo brought to the table.

“I realized that Krys was just a very, very smart player, she just had a really amazing sense for the game,” Wright said. “Not only was she strong and fast, she had very good game awareness and that was pretty impressive for me to see.”

Wright – naturally left-handed – saw herself as more of a driver and favoured playing out wide, thinking it helped the team that she could change passing patterns and present a different challenge to the goalie with her handedness at that position. But Alogbo saw a different future for her, letting Wright know from the very beginning of their association that a time would come for her to play centre forward. Until her retirement, Alogbo was the only senior team captain Wright knew, and true to the leader Alogbo has been, she was there to help Wright understand the demands of the role.

“Especially during the beginning when I was starting to transition more into playing that role,” Wright said of Alogbo’s guidance. “She was definitely there to correct me and give me pointers here and there. She’s done that for a long time for Elyse. She’s kind of been Elyse’s mentor and been there to help her along the way so when I transitioned to that role she was definitely there for me. I’ve always looked up to her but definitely as a centre – she was the best centre in the world at one point. You obviously want this person to give you as much of that information and experience as they can.”


Alogbo loved the camaraderie of the team. (Reuters)

Future

The early days of the national team practising without Alogbo took some getting used to and, with a lack of competition because of travel restrictions, they can’t yet be sure of where they stack up without her. Knowing there’s no going back, though, the team has steadily continued to adapt and move forward as best they can.

If there is one thing they hope to carry forward from the Alogbo days it’s partying just as hard as they play. Whether it be teammates, coaches, or family, Alogbo has always made a point of making others feel special. When health and safety restrictions are such that a proper celebration can be had for Alogbo and her career, they intend on ensuring it happens.

“She’s big about celebrating,” Paradelo said. “She’s invited the team to her house so many times, she made sure that every chance, every birthday, even if we weren’t together on that given day, we celebrated at some point in time before or after.

“Krystina showed how to appreciate life, how to appreciate the moments you’re spending on the road with your teammates, how to spend the moments that you’re at home and that you’re still able to be with your teammates as family or friends, not just co-workers.”

The time has come for Alogbo to appreciate even more of the lighter side of life, like her new dog Enzo, a Lagotto she picked up in light of the international retirement that made her realize she’d have time to care for two dogs while still getting a feel for coaching. Throw in spending more time with family and hobbies like soccer, volleyball, wind surfing and yoga and it’s a start to acclimatizing to life without Team Canada.

Is Alogbo completely comfortable with the idea yet? She’s getting there.

“Just being with my family, being there for them and also them giving me that approval was huge,” Alogbo said. “My sister saying, ‘You’ll always be our Olympic champion no matter what’ and my mom and her saying to leave it to the younger ones because I have six nieces and nephews made all the difference.”

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Canada might face the Dream Team at the Tokyo Olympics

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Canada could face the Dream Team in Tokyo

The draws for the Olympic basketball tournaments took place today and the NBA-star-studded U.S. men’s team landed in a group with France, Iran and the winner of this summer’s last-chance qualifier in Victoria. That’s the one Canada is in. So winning the event will not only clinch the Canadian men’s squad its first Olympic berth in more than two decades, but also its first-ever Olympic showdown with America’s best players.

The NBA started participating in the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona, where Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Charles Barkley headlined the original (and still greatest) Dream Team. But the Canadian men’s squad has reached the Olympics only once since then — in 2000 in Sydney. Future NBA MVP Steve Nash led Canada to a first-place finish in a group that did not include the U.S., and they didn’t cross paths in the knockout round either. Canada fell in the quarter-finals to France, which went on to lose to the Americans in the gold-medal game. Vince Carter (at the peak of his powers that summer — just ask Frederic Weis) co-led the U.S. with 13 points in the final.

In order to earn a date with the Americans — which would happen on July 31 — Canada must first get out of Victoria. The June 29-July 4 qualifier has six teams in it, and only the winner gets to go to Tokyo. One of the countries Canada has to beat is Greece, which could be led by two-time reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo — if his Milwaukee Bucks are eliminated from the playoffs in time.

And, of course, all this comes with the caveat that some NBA stars (not to mention the teams that pay them millions of dollars a year) might not be too keen on the idea of travelling to Japan after a long, compressed season… during a global pandemic. So this could be the softest Dream Team in quite some time, though other countries could lose NBA players too.

The Olympic women’s draw was also held today. Canada, which has already qualified for the third straight time, avoided the mighty U.S., which is heavily favoured to win its seventh straight gold. But the fourth-ranked Canadians still drew a tough-looking group that also includes No. 3 Spain, No. 8 Serbia and No. 19 South Korea.

Both the women’s and men’s tournament are made up of three groups of four teams. The top two from each group advance to the knockout stage, plus the two best third-place teams. Canada hasn’t won an Olympic basketball medal since the Hitler-hosted 1936 Games in Berlin, where a men’s tournament (and only a men’s tournament) was played on an outdoor dirt court.

Read more about the draws for Tokyo here, and read about the “virtual” training camp the Canadian women’s team is holding this week here.

Jevohn Shepherd talks with some of the biggest names in Canadian basketball about how the culture of the sport has changed over the past two decades, and if this is only the beginning of developing NBA stars. 7:18

Bianca Andreescu delayed her comeback again

She was supposed to play her first match in 15 months at the Grampians Trophy — one of the Australian Open warmup events happening in Melbourne. Andreescu was seeded No. 1, which entitled her to a first-round bye. After that, she was scheduled to meet the winner of a match between former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens and Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez. But Andreescu pulled out last night, saying in a statement that she and her “team” have “decided to focus this week on training for the Australian Open,” which starts Monday.

It’s a curious move, considering Andreescu has said she’s fully recovered from the knee and foot injuries that have contributed to her being sidelined since October 2019. She indicated in an interview a few months ago that it was more than just physical issues that kept her off the court, saying “the virus kind of pushed me back, and some little personal things here and there.” But she described herself at the time as “perfectly healthy” and said she’d “100 per cent” be at the Australian Open.

The trip has been a tough one, though. Andreescu was among the 72 players forced to endure a two-week, solitary quarantine in their hotel rooms after arriving on one of three contaminated charter flights. Andreescu’s coach, Sylvain Bruneau, tested positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Melbourne on one of those planes. He said the rest of his “team” tested negative, and there has been no indication that Andreescu tested positive. Read more about her withdrawal from the Aussie Open tuneup here.

Quickly…

The baseball season will be normal. That’s a relative term these days, but the players’ association rejected the owners’ interesting proposal for a modified season that would see spring training pushed back from Feb. 17 to March 22, opening day from April 1 to April 28, and each team’s schedule cut from 162 games to 154. The offer also included expanding the playoffs from 10 teams to 14, extending the DH to the National League and putting a runner on second base to start extra innings, which was first tried last year. Plus, this fun wrinkle: the higher-seeded teams involved in the first round of the playoffs would get to pick their opponents — and the choices would be announced on a television show. But, in classic baseball fashion, the offer was swiftly rejected. So we’re back to the old 162-game season, starting around the usual time. Read more about the rebuffed proposal here.

The National Women’s Hockey League lost another team. Last week, the Metropolitan Riveters dropped out of the NWHL hub in Lake Placid, N.Y., after several team members tested positive for the coronavirus. Now the Connecticut Whale have bailed for reasons unstated, leaving only four teams. They all advance to Thursday’s semifinals, which pit the top-seeded Toronto Six vs. the Buffalo Beauts, and the Boston Bride vs. the Minnesota Whitecaps. The winners of those games play for the Isobel Cup on Friday.

And finally…

A defenceman who almost never scores beat one of the NHL’s best goalies — from the far blue-line. Calgary’s Chris Tanev racked up exactly two goals in each of the past four seasons. Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck won the Vezina Trophy last year. So, naturally, Tanev put one past him from about 115 feet away last night:


Watch a better video of the blooper and read more about the game here.

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How Vancouver 2030 plan could avoid the pitfalls of Calgary’s dashed Olympic dream

The group pushing for Vancouver to bid for the 2030 Winter Games say their plan to use private sector money to refurbish existing sports venues gives them an edge over Calgary’s 2026 Olympic dream that was quashed by a public plebiscite.

Bringing an Olympics to Vancouver would also boost British Columbia’s economy which has been battered  by the COVID-19 pandemic, said John Furlong, who was head of the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC), and is part of the group looking at the 2030 Games.

“At some point, governments are going to have to have recovery projects,” said Furlong. “The feeling is that we can really help the community and government . . . coming out of COVID.”

In early November Vancouver city council voted to postpone a decision on whether it wants to explore making a bid for the 2030 Olympics. City staff are expected to present a report to council in early 2021.

WATCH | Furlong tells CBC that Vancouver has tools for 2030 bid:

John Furlong claims that Vancouver has a solid head start on a potential bid for the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. 0:40

Furlong didn’t give a cost estimate for upgrading the facilities used for the 2010 Games but said it could be done without government funding.

“We have been working on the idea of submitting a fully sustainable bid, lowering the cost of the bidding process and then staging and extending the facility and sport legacy for decades into the future,” he said. “The current thinking is we will not need government investment in sport facilities and that any minor upgrading that is needed will be covered by games operations which is projected to be private sector funded.

“The goal is to be the first Winter Olympic and Paralympic bid in history to not require new sport infrastructure funded by senior governments.”

VANOC spent $ 580 million building new venues or upgrading existing facilities for the 2010 Olympics.

Michael Naraine, an assistant professor with Brock University’s department of sport management who studies major games and the Olympic movement, questions if the private sector would become involved in an Olympics without some government insurances.

“We’ve looked at Olympic Games, year after year, and there are always cost overruns,” Naraine said.

“Given the COVID environment . . . I think a lot of private enterprise are going to be skeptical when it comes to getting involved with major projects that they know have a high degree of certainty of having cost overruns.”

Governments also usually pay the tab for costs like security and policing, “line items in particular [that] tend to be under reported when it comes to the final reports that are produced by local organizing committees,” Naraine said.

Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, was planning on bidding for the 2026 Games. The idea was rejected in 2018 by 56.4 per cent of city residents who voted in a plebiscite.

Calgary had ‘significant price tag’

Furlong sees differences between what happened in Calgary and the proposal for Vancouver.

“What they were voting on in Calgary, there was a significant price tag,” he said.

The Calgary Olympic bid had an estimated price tag of $ 5.1 billion, with the province agreeing to contribute $ 700 million and Ottawa covering another $ 1.423 billion through Sport Canada.

The city was asked to contribute $ 390 million, including $ 20 million for a $ 200-million insurance policy against cost overruns.

The Vancouver 2010 Games also faced a plebiscite in February of 2003.  About 64 per cent of Vancouver residents casting ballots voted in favour of hosting the Games.

“The view at the time was there was considerable risk and there was financial risk to the city,” said Furlong. “This time though, the idea is to try to find a way for the Olympics to be a sustainable project where we’ve removed or eliminated the vast majority of that risk.”

WATCH | Furlong says IOC ‘enamoured’ with idea of Vancouver 2030:

John Furlong, one of leaders of 2010 Vancouver Olympics, wants the city to submit a bid for the 2030 Winter Games. 0:44

VANOC’s final fiscal report said the Games broke even, with total revenues and expenses just shy of $ 1.9 billion. The federal government contributed $ 74.4 million, the B.C. government $ 113.4 million and other governments $ 176 million. The International Olympic Committee kicked in $ 659 million in sponsorships and contributions to help cover the tab.

Ticket sales raised $ 269 million, while licensing and merchandising accounted for another $ 54 million.

Critics argue major infrastructure projects like the Sea to Sky Highway, the Vancouver Convention Centre and a rapid transit line to the airport were not included in the final tally.

The final price tag for the convention centre was $ 883 million, about $ 388 million over budget. The SkyTrain’s Canada Line cost $ 2.1 billion.

Kris Sims, BC director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said any 2030 bid involving public money would likely face calls for a plebiscite.

“If the corporations can cover this, and it doesn’t cost taxpayers money, fine, I’ll be there with my pom poms,” she said. “But if it’s costing taxpayers, I’m like no, we don’t have the money.”

Naraine questioned the public appetite for hosting a Games considering how many people are struggling financially due to COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, I think Vancouver 2030 is going to get shot down because it’s just not the right time, given we’re coming out of the pandemic,” he said.

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Biden’s lifelong presidential dream ‘very much alive’ after big win in South Carolina

There’s an old story Joe Biden tells about himself, his presidential dreams and an encounter with a Roman Catholic nun.

His eternal hope flickers brighter today, with the former vice-president scoring a desperately needed primary win at a critical moment in this year’s election cycle. 

Biden once described speaking to a group of students back when he was a rookie senator, many years ago, and telling them he had no plans to seek the White House. 

He got called out by a sister.

“I could see a nun at the back of the room stand up. ‘You know that’s not true, Joey Biden,’ she said as she pulled from the folds of her habit a paper I’d authored in grade school,” Biden wrote in Promises To Keep, the memoir he released for his second presidential run, not to be confused with Promise Me, Dad, released for this, his third presidential run. 

“I’d written that I wanted to be president when I grew up, she said. So I was caught red-handed.”

Nearly half a century later, following three presidential runs spanning four decades, his aspirations so notorious his denials became their own punchline, he’s finally won one presidential contest.

And boy did he need this one.

Biden hurtled into Super Tuesday with momentum and a message: for voters hoping to stop Sen. Bernie Sanders, he’s now the best bet.

Barack Obama’s former vice-president rode a wave of nostalgia for the former administration and won decisively in the first state where the majority of voters were black.

Biden won by nearly 30 percentage points, and came close to wiping out the lead in convention delegates Sanders had amassed in earlier states.

Biden himself alluded to South Carolina’s history of backing winners: It’s chosen the eventual Democratic nominee in four of five competitive cycles since 1992.

Watch: Joe Biden celebrates much-needed victory in South Carolina

Democratic leadership candidate Joe Biden is hoping victory in the South Carolina primary will give him momentum for Super Tuesday. 0:42

“You launched Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, to the presidency,” Biden told a victory rally Saturday night.  

“For all those of you who’ve been knocked down, counted out, left behind, this is your campaign. 

“Just days ago the press and the pundits had declared this candidacy dead.… We are very much alive.” 

Another candidate, billionaire Tom Steyer, quit the race Saturday.

Other candidacies will be made and broken this Tuesday. 

More than one-third of the delegates in this nomination cycle are up for grabs in a single day — with 14 states voting. 

The good news, bad news for Biden

The good news for Biden is that a few Super Tuesday states are similar to South Carolina — in geography, demography, and voting history.

Five of the 14 states are also in the South; also have large black populations; have more centrist voters; and they all rejected Sanders in 2016.

“A strong turnout in South Carolina will send signals to all the other southern states,” said Todd Shaw, associate director of African-American studies at the University of South Carolina.

One South Carolina Democrat emphasized the ripple-effect potential with a personal anecdote.

Jaime Harrison, running for the U.S. Senate this fall against incumbent Lindsey Graham, called it a “springboard” effect across the South. People in nearby states look at South Carolina, he said.

“As my grandma said, ‘We’ve got relatives all across the South. And they look at what we do in South Carolina.'” Harrison said in a podcast chat.

“And that has a factor in what happens on Super Tuesday. We saw it with President Obama [in 2008], we saw it with Hillary Clinton [in 2016], and you’ll probably see it again with the winner of our primary.” 

That’s the good news for the former VP. Now a word of caution for those in the throes of Bidenmania.

It’s still an uphill battle. 

It’s important to note Biden will face an important new rival on Super Tuesday: billionaire Mike Bloomberg is set to enter the race, competing for the anti-Sanders vote with limitless resources at his disposal, as evidenced by the generous selection of free barbecue he’s doling out to people who attend his rallies.

Bloomberg isn’t the only competitor with deeper pockets than Biden. 

Biden started February with $ 7 million US left of $ 69 million raised. Sanders had almost $ 10 million more in the bank, on $ 134 million raised. Even Pete Buttigieg raised more than the former vice-president. And that was before Biden’s catastrophic showings in the first two states, followed by a more respectable second place in Nevada. 


Democratic White House hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally at the Virginia Wesleyan University Convocation Hall in Virginia Beach, Va. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

Then there’s his California problem. 

The most populous state in America holds 415 delegates — by far the biggest prize on Super Tuesday, with more than 10 per cent of this year’s overall total. 

He’s polling dismally there. If he, and other candidates, fail to win the minimum 15 per cent of the vote, Sanders could conceivably walk off with most or even all of those massive electoral spoils. It’s no accident Sanders headed straight for California this weekend. 

So Biden and his team will begin making a more emphatic case to the large cross-section of Democrats who oppose Sanders. 

The message: It’s Biden or bust. 

Sanders has already begun efforts to unite the Democratic Party around him with general-election-style campaign messaging.

In South Carolina, Sanders focused almost exclusively on attacking President Donald Trump in a tease of what he’d sound like as a candidate this fall. 

Sanders mentioned, barely in passing, that he’d be likelier to beat Trump than Biden, because of his lifelong progressive record and ability to fire up young voters and get them to turn out.

Watch: ‘You cannot win ’em all,’ Bernie Sanders says after South Carolina defeat

Bernie Sanders congratulated Biden after the South Carolina primary, noting there were many more contests to come in the Democratic leadership race. 0:38

Biden’s crowds this week in South Carolina weren’t as large as Sanders’s. 

But he spent lots of time with people at his smaller events, taking questions and lingering afterward to sign autographs. 

Biden did so in a school gymnasium where a smallish crowd of a few dozen people lined up to meet the former vice-president in Sumter, S.C. 

He took subtle digs at Sanders. As he did in his victory speech Saturday, Biden suggested that what Americans voters want after Trump is competent, stable government — not systemic overhaul. 

“This nation isn’t looking for a revolution. We’re looking for progress. For results,” he said in Sumter. 


Marybeth Berry, who asked Biden a question at a campaign event in Sumter, S.C., said she wavered about her vote in the Democratic primary but would vote for anyone in the general election against President Donald Trump. (Alexander Panetta/CBC News)

When asked what would be his first three priorities as president, Biden promised to re-enter the Paris climate accord on Day One of his presidency; send Congress an immigration plan; and tackle education reform. 

But one wavering voter appeared to suggest he might try emulating Sanders a bit. She asked Biden what motivates him.

“You see Bernie and you see Elizabeth Warren and you see that fire,” Marybeth Berry asked at the Sumter event.

“What is your fire?”

Biden’s reply: “Decency and honour.” 

In a lengthy response, the ex-VP said that just because he doesn’t scream like Sanders and wave his arms like Warren doesn’t mean he lacks passion. 

Biden went on to mention fighting inequality and injustice, abuse of power, men who hurt women, and he spoke of lessons learned from his father. 

After the event, Berry said she was still wavering between Sanders and Biden, though inching closer to the Biden camp. 

But what if Sanders wins? 

The vast majority, but not all, Democrats tell exit pollsters they’d vote for whoever becomes the party nominee. Given the closeness of most U.S. presidential races, the party can’t afford to fragment this fall.


People vote in the state’s primary election in Charleston, S.C., on Saturday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Berry said she’d vote for anyone against Trump — literally anyone. She pointed to a CBC reporter and said: “I’d vote for you.”

But, she was reminded, it’s illegal for non-Americans to run for president.

Berry shrugged, “Whatever.

“At this point,” she said, “what we have in the White House is a disgrace.” 

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Hilary Duff Says She Wants the ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Revival to Go to Hulu: ‘It Would Be a Dream’

Hilary Duff Says She Wants the ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Revival to Go to Hulu: ‘It Would Be a Dream’ | Entertainment Tonight

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‘Dream Chaser’ Space Plane Features Fancy Space Trash Can

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All the current launch platforms certified to make supply runs to the International Space Station (ISS) use a parachute to return to Earth after each mission. Although, SpaceX has designs on propulsive landings with its Dragon capsule. Sierra Nevada Corporation has something else in mind with its uncrewed Dream Chaser spacecraft. The Dream Chaser is a fully reusable space plane that can carry a secondary non-reusable cargo module

Sierra Nevada Corporation has talked about the Dream Chaser in the past, but it just revealed new details about the vehicle at a press conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The star of the show is the new cargo module, which the company calls “Shooting Star.” That module will nest inside the Dream Chaser during launch and station approach. Then, it can autonomously dock with the ISS and pick up waste material. Yes, it takes out the trash, making it probably the fanciest rubbish bin in the world. 

Currently, the ISS crew loads important scientific materials onto cargo modules for the return to Earth, but they also carry some waste materials. Shooting Star would pick up the trash and then guide itself into the atmosphere where it incinerates. Meanwhile, the Dream Chaser can go on with its mission and reserve more space for materials ground teams want, and not garbage. The spacecraft will land after each mission at the Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility.

Behold, the fanciest space trash can in the world.

The Dream Chaser sports a few more abilities existing cargo vehicles lack. For example, it can become a short-term orbital platform with an optional inflatable module and additional power capacity. It has also been designed with NASA’s Lunar Gateway in mind. It will be able to dock with the station (with the help of an added satellite bus), allowing it to play a part in the Artemis program to return humans to the lunar surface. It will have to bid on NASA contracts before that happens, though. 

Sierra Nevada Corporation is scheduled to send the Dream Chaser on its first of at least six missions to the ISS in 2021. The company doesn’t have to worry about designing a rocket to launch the Dream Chaser, though. It’s partnered with United Launch Alliance to send the Dream Chaser into space atop Vulcan rockets. That rocket is expected to launch for the first time in mid-2021. 

Now read:

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Nowhere to go: Girls can still dream in wake of CWHL’s collapse, just not too big

In a nondescript strip mall in Oakville, Ont., behind an opaque black door with a peeling sign, is a cavernous gym full of daunting pieces of fitness apparatus and large ropes that hang from the ceiling. You can barely talk over the music that pumps continuously.

In the gym’s back corner, a group of young girls, mostly 11- and 12-year-olds, drip with sweat and cringe as they try to keep pace with a grueling workout. The Oakville Hornets have come to work and get stronger; part of the team’s weekly ​​​​​dryland training.

Girls on this competitive team are at the beginning of their hockey journey. Most of them have been playing rep or competitive hockey for only a few years and are just beginning to discover the joys of the game.

“On the ice, you just let go of everything else around,” says Julia Foster, who has been playing hockey since she was five. “You are focusing on how to get better. It gives you courage to prove to people you can do whatever you put your mind to.”


The girls who play for teams like the Oakville Hornets used to dream of playing in a pro league like the CWHL. (Jamie Strashin/CBC)

Foster and her young teammates are full of dreams as they embrace the game they are told is part of Canada’s national fabric. Last season, on a number of occasions, Foster’s team had an opportunity to see women’s hockey at its highest level when they attended Toronto Furies games, a team in the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).

“To see them play was heartwarming because you got see people who used to be your age actually playing at that level,” Foster says. “To have somebody to actually look up, to know there could be a future, to actually see it’s possible.”


Hornets players do dryland training in a gym in Oakville. (Jamie Strashin/CBC)

For now, Foster and young female hockey players across the country can still dream. Just not too big. There will be no more trips to Furies games.

As the Oakville Hornets rise in the hockey world, the women’s professional game is in the midst of another unsure fall. In May, the CWHL abruptly folded, derailed by the same factors that have plagued the growth of women’s hockey for years: tepid fan interest and poor ticket sales; lack of real sponsorship investment; and no consistent television coverage. In a final communique, the league’s board of directors was blunt: “The League is not generating enough revenue to cover expenses.”

The CWHL was around for 12 seasons and when it ceased operations had six teams, including four in Canada. Over the years it had teams in a number of markets and tried various configurations and business arrangements, including two teams in China. Despite its off-ice issues, the league was home to a majority of the game’s top players and was a key training ground in the four years between Winter Olympics. In its wake, only one professional league remains. The NWHL, which was established in 2015, is a smaller league with five U.S-based teams.


National Women Hockey League players Hilary Knight, left, and Emily Pfalzer in 2016, the league’s first. It was different from the CWHL because it paid its players. (Associated Press)

The CWHL’s abrupt demise has again thrown women’s hockey into a state of flux. Players and experts close to the game say the implications of having no professional women’s hockey league in Canada will be felt from the grassroots all the way up to the Olympic team. It has also ignited a conversation about whom, if anyone, has a role in ensuring that thousands of young female hockey players have something to aspire to.

The issue for women’s hockey in Canada hasn’t been growth. Girls’ registration continues to tick upward, while boys’ hockey participation has flat-lined. The problem has been at the professional level, where fevered interest, from both fans and sponsors, froths up every four years at Olympic time, but wanes almost immediately after. Maintaining interest in the intervening years has proved difficult.

“It’s frustrating to see companies jump on athletes and do commercials about female hockey during the Olympics and then it’s gone,” says Carlee Campbell, a former all-star defenceman with the Toronto Furies. “When is somebody going to step in and when are little girls going to be able to look up and see these larger companies and know that they actually support women’s hockey beyond the Olympics.”

Campbell couldn’t wait any longer for that question to be answered. After the CWHL folded, Campbell and others simply decided to walk away from the game. Campbell says she doesn’t see a “foreseeable future” in professional hockey and, at age 31, couldn’t afford to sit around and wait to see what happens next.

“I didn’t want to end my career. I wanted to play again.” 

I loved going to those games. I met the players. I could look them in the eye and say this is where I want to be.– Oakville Hornets forward Shannon Henshaw

She has stayed close to the game. Inside the Oakville gym, she’s the one leading the young Hornets through their workout. Campbell marvels at the girl’s effort, passion and desire to get better. The team is equally impressed by Campbell, who they had the opportunity to cheer.

“When we went to games they saw how the girls had to prepare, what it took to compete,” says Hornet’s coach Michelle Henshaw. “You are an athlete; it is part of your life. The competition, the level of skill they can aspire to. You can see it right there.”

“I loved going to those games,” says Hornet’s forward Shannon Henshaw. “I went in to the dressing room, I met the players. I could look them in the eye and say this is where I want to be. If they can make it, I can make it.” .

Kiska Colwill, who has a daughter on the team, nods her head beside her. “That there isn’t a women’s league with so many girls playing the sport is unfathomable. What happens to my daughter when she finishes minor bantam? I don’t know what that road is. For boys, it is the No. 1 topic.”

Campbell is also helping Christina McCulloch get better. The 17-year-old works hard at her game and is often on the ice five times a week. She will continue her hockey journey next fall at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., but beyond that her next steps are uncertain. McCulloch points out that there are countless professional leagues where males can continue to play, develop and get paid a decent wage.

“They have many more opportunities; it’s hard to think about,” she says. “I would love that opportunity. Absolutely love it.”

While players like Campbell made the tough decision to hang up their skates, a majority of the game’s best players have forged on, trying to give players like Korliss and McCulloch and thousands of others something to aspire to.


Sweden cancelled the Four Nations Cup, originally scheduled for November, because of a player boycott over pay and working conditions. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

In May, 200 of North America’s top female players formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). The players vowed to sit out this season in order to push for one financially viable and sustainable professional league. In a nutshell, they want a living wage and better working conditions.

It’s an international movement. In September, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation cancelled the Four Nations Cup, an annual tournament which was scheduled to also include Canada, Finland and the United States. Sweden couldn’t guarantee its players would participate because of an ongoing pay dispute. The Swedish players, unhappy with pay, travel conditions and scheduling, also formed a union. 

In 2017, members of the U.S. women’s national team were successful in winning better compensation after threatening to boycott the world championships.

To promote their cause, and to remain on the hockey radar, the PWPHA launched the recently wrapped up Dream Gap tour, which saw a series of games played in Toronto, Chicago and New Hampshire. The tour aimed at establishing deeper ties with fans and sponsors. In a release the PWPHA spelled out what the tour was attempting highlight.

“A young boy can lace up his skates and imagine himself circling the ice in his favourite professional team’s jersey as the crowd chants his name. He dreams it, because he’s seen it countless times. There is no realistic equivalent for aspiring female hockey players to imagine their futures.”

Liz Knox, a PWPHA board member and former CWHL goalie, says barnstorming across North America is not something the players want to be doing.

“There was a sense of sadness that this is what it’s comes to,” Knox says. “It’s taken the best 145 players in the world to say we’re not going to play hockey this year. We are trying to get the attention of Hockey Canada, USA Hockey, the NHL, sponsors.”


Liz Knox, a former CWHL player and a board member on the new women’s players union, says barnstorming like the recent Dream Gap Tour is not something players want to have to do. (Cole Burston/Canadian Press)

Knox hopes the tour dispels the rhetoric about equality and opportunity when it comes to girls’ hockey in Canada. She says without a professional league, the only thing girls can honestly dream of is a spot on the Olympic team. 

“If I’m not the 30 best in Canada, is there somewhere where I can continue to develop? And that’s the thing for young girls. If you are not in that top 30 you’re done, you’re not going to keep playing hockey,” Knox says. 

“You are not going to spend evenings and weekends going to rink. For what? There is no dream. There is nothing to aspire to. So how do you keep a 14-year-old or a nine-year-old or a six-year-old motivated if year by year by year the dream dwindles. Girls should be able to leave the game on their own terms, not when they’re 14.”

The Dream Gap tour was a modest success. Some of the games were streamed online but none were broadcast on television. It played to full houses in small arenas and managed to attract support from a number of large sponsors including Adidas, Bauer and Budweiser.

It’s expected more Dream Gap dates will soon be announced. Recently Budweiser, in conjunction with PWHPA, launched an ad that begins with celebrities like Don Cherry and Gerry Dee enthusiastically singing lines from Stompin’ Tom Connors’s famous “Hockey Song.”

In the ad’s second half, a group of female hockey players soberly speak the song’s lyrics as the arena lights go out. The message is clear: the good old hockey game is only great when it’s for everyone. It’s unclear the size of Budweiser’s financial commitment but in a release it said it is “encouraging other brands to lay it on the line, step up and show their support for the women’s game

We’re talking multi-million [dollar investment]. We’re not talking about some free apparel and some free running shoes here and there.”– Laura Walzak, former CWHL board member

Knox says to many watching, the tour was achieving many of its goals. 

“The players carry themselves professionally, act professionally, they certainly perform professionally on the ice. But behind the scenes there are gaps,” Knox says. “To the outsider it may appear professional. For example, during the Dream Gap tour somebody said, ‘Oh these girls are on tour, they must make a ton of money.’ The idea is that we appear professional. We want to appear that way but we are really not.”

Many of the challenges facing the PWHPA mirror those that doomed the CWHL. If a league emerges where players can make an actual living, many things will have to shift. When the CWHL folded, it had expenses of $ 4.2 million and revenues of about $ 3.2 million. The league was paying its players a stipend of $ 2,000-$ 10,000 dollars per year. The CWHL board of directors said that it would take $ 5 million-$ 6 million to run the league “adequately” or $ 10 million to run it “professionally.” 

In order to drive that kind of revenue any emerging league will require robust sponsorship and broadcasting, creating a kind of Catch-22 for the CWHL.

“The League desired more fans watching games, both on television and in the stands, yet to attract more fans the League needed more broadcast airtime and more advertising and sponsorship dollars to drive marketing,” said the league’s final statement.

The handful of CWHL games that were televised drew modest interest but “not enough to suffice increased airtime and advertising dollars.”

Former CWHL board chair Laurel Walzak, now a communications professor at Ryerson University, says the league couldn’t convince sponsors to stick with it as it attempted to build an audience by televising games more consistently.

“When fans don’t watch the broadcast, broadcasters have difficulty selling advertising. So we needed commitment from sponsors that they were going to commit to the advertising, they’re going to commit to more airtime for us.”

Walzak says the “massive” moves many sponsors talked about making around women’s hockey never materialized into actual financial investment.

“We’re talking multi-million [dollar investment]. We’re not talking about some free apparel and some free running shoes here and there.”

What has changed?

So what has changed?

Julie Young, a professor in Brock University’s sport management program, says members of the PWPHA can overcome these historical challenges by shifting the conversation from a social case to a business case.

“Up to now the discussion about opportunity and equity and gender balance in the game played to the social cause of supporting a woman’s professional league.” Young says. “But when you talk of a professional league you’re talking about a business venture. So you now have to message to the right kinds of investor capitalists who might support the league, sponsors that might support the league in more of a business case.”

Young cautions that players can’t use the metrics that accompany Olympic hockey when trying to make the case for a league.

“It’s basically a startup. It’s an emerging venture that you need to look at what the market research is telling you,” Young says. “You can’t really assume that all the emphasis that backs it up as a high-performance sport program will shift over and automatically those resources will help get it off the ground.”

It’s been an issue early on for the PWPHA. Former player Chelsea Purcell, who is now doing sponsorship consulting for the player’s association, says advertisers are looking for metrics to support a return on investment that the burgeoning association can’t provide at this early stage. 

I just believe that a pro women’s league should be able to prove that it’s viable without the NHL, without NHL teams. And that’s what we’re proving.– Dani Rylan, NWHL commissioner

“That’s what a lot of these sponsors want, versus how are people going to view our brand,” Purcell says. “How are they going to see the strength of our brand? Are they going to actually purchase products because they want to support those that are supporting women’s hockey.”
  
Young says the lack of meaningful investment thus far means either women’s hockey isn’t viable or a clear business case hasn’t emerged.

“This is reversed. It’s not a bunch of investors seeing a market opportunity and stepping forward and then as time goes on the players in this league unionize and organized,” Young says. “It’s the opposite. You’ve got players who are unionizing and organizing now, needing to attract investors to set the league up for them to play in.”

Given all of the challenges, many have long pointed to the NHL as the saviour for women’s hockey. The thinking is that the established league, with its arenas, sponsorship, marketing and broadcast reach, would easily lift the women’s game to the heights many have for so long thought possible.  

Many within the PWPHA believe some kind of partnership with NHL is the only real way forward.

“It would be awesome if we could be under the NHL umbrella because that structure is already there, the moving parts are already there to be able to get us in the right direction,” says goalie Shannon Szabados, who twice won Olympic gold with Canada’s women’s team and who is also a PWPHA board member. “We aren’t looking for a single investor because then you are starting from scratch.”

For months though, the NHL’s talking point has been the same: It is only interested if there is only one league. And while the CWHL folded, the five-team NWHL continues to operate in the United States. 

Earlier this year, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league backs “the concept of professional women’s hockey and elite women’s hockey players having the ability to play the game at a professional level,” but it is too early to commit to a bigger role.

“We certainly want to preserve the ability of women players to play at the highest level,” Daly said. “So it’s really too early to say how that is going to play out and how the NHL’s role will or won’t be going forward. We’re going to have to be observers.”


With the collapse of the CWHL, the Canadian national team is one of the few options for young females to continue playing beyond minor hockey. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

If NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan is any indication, that doesn’t appear imminent. The NWHL may lack the game’s biggest names but Rylan told the Associated Press earlier this month: “We’re not going anywhere. We’re just growing.” 

“I think the message right now is the NHL needs to save professional women’s hockey,” she added. “And I just believe that a pro women’s league should be able to prove that it’s viable without the NHL, without NHL teams. And that’s what we’re proving.”

The NWHL may even be growing. Reports earlier this month indicated the league has added new investors and is targeting an expansion team in the Greater Toronto area by as early as next season.

“What’s happening right now can’t go on forever,” says Chelsea Purcell. “The NWHL doesn’t look like it’s going to fold and that’s the worrisome part. If the NHL never steps up then we need to find a different route and what that is and who is leading that I don’t even know”

So what then? The Dream Gap tour is over. The world championships are in Halifax next April and it appears almost certain there will be no women’s professional league in Canada this season.

One group being looked at to play a more active role is Hockey Canada. The CWHL used to be the training ground for the 25 players who would eventually represent Canada on the international stage. It also provided a home to about 100 other players where they could continue to hone their skills and try to push into the top group.

Liz Knox says the CWHL’s demise means others like Hockey Canada now have to step in and provide more financial support and leadership.

Not in business of running leagues

“Hockey Canada could fill a role similar to the NHL and really work to start a league. It’s a shame that it’s taken this long to see a substantial investment from them,” Knox says. “Maybe this will be an eyeopener for them that if you want to keep producing gold medals, because that’s their big concern for women’s hockey, an investment needs to be made in the years in between.”

Gina Kingsbury is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and is now the director of the women’s team for Hockey Canada. She says with no league in place this season, her priority is looking after the pool of athletes competing for a roster spot ahead of the 2020 world championships. Kingsbury says it’s not part of Hockey Canada’s mandate or strategic plan to fund or operate a league.


Gina Kingsbury, left, is a two-time Olympic gold medallist and is now the director of the women’s team for Hockey Canada. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

“We’ve discussed that internally to be quite frank, [and] the answer that came out is that we’re not in the business of running leagues,” Kingsbury says. “Our mandate is to grow the game from a grass-roots perspective and to be able to produce world-class teams that compete internationally. 

“We certainly support our athletes and in their quest of knocking on the door to the NHL or whoever may want to start a league and will take this project on.” 

At the same time, Kingsbury says, with no league in place, concerns grow about Canada’s readiness as it prepares for the Beijing Olympics in 2022. She concedes Hockey Canada could set something up temporarily but nothing that would be sustainable in the long term.

“Maybe the pool of athletes just grows next year and we create a certain amount of games among 90 athletes. I have no idea what the answer is. But those are questions that obviously we’re constantly asking ourselves and we haven’t come up with the answer.”

Who will usher women’s hockey forward?

So who, if anyone, will usher women’s professional hockey in Canada forward? 

The NHL continues to vacillate. Hockey Canada and others don’t envision running a league on their own. An unknown benefactor or a coalition of sponsors willing to take a risk has yet to emerge.

For now, the future is again unknown. Even the game’s biggest stars like Marie Phillipe Poulin are cautious.

“Right now we are starting at the bottom; nothing great is built in a year. We don’t want what the NHL has. Nobody is saying that,” Poulin says. “But look at men’s minor league hockey. They play full time and make a living doing what they love to do. That is what we are trying to do right now. There is light, [but] it might be further away than we think.”

Poulin’s message to the thousands of young girls across Canada is simple.

“I still say dream big. Yes to the Olympics but dream of a league. We want to create that. So I still say dream big because I believe it will happen.”

Girls like Julia Foster and her Hornets teammates in Oakville are watching closely, hoping their story will be different.

“It’s sad. It seems like nobody seems to care about it right now.”
 

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Rob Kardashian Shares Sweet Father-Daughter Halloween Costume With Dream — See the Pics!

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‘The Masked Singer’: Johnny Weir Dishes on Living His ‘Pop Star Dream’ and Picking His Costume (Exclusive)

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Watch The Dream Gap Tour hockey tournament

Click on the video player above to watch the biggest names in Canadian women’s hockey play in The Dream Gap Tour.

The tour is a series of games organized by the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) in an effort to push their game forward.

Sunday’s action continues at 9:30 a.m. ET for a game between Team Johnson and Team Knox, followed by Team Poulin facing Team Jenner.

The tour will also include October dates in Hudson, N.H., and Chicago.

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