The Potential Influence of the Rivalry Series on the PWHL


The Potential Influence of the Rivalry Series on the PWHL

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The annual Rivalry Series serves as a pivotal platform for Team Canada and Team USA in their pursuit of refining their national squads. However, with the introduction of the PWHL into the equation, how will these two influential entities influence each other?

Shifting Dynamics: Canada and the USA are poised for another intense seven-game faceoff in the Rivalry Series. In recent times, both hockey powerhouses have utilized this series as a vital tool in assembling their rosters for the World Championships. Notably, Canada relied solely on the Rivalry Series, while the USA combined the Series with a pre-tournament training camp.

The PWHL Factor: The advent of the PWHL is set to reshape the impact and significance of the Rivalry Series. It’s a two-way street — the Series will undoubtedly affect the PWHL, but it too could be influenced by this new league.

Scheduling Quandaries: The first two Rivalry Series games, scheduled in Tempe, Arizona and Los Angeles, California, fall directly before the commencement of PWHL training camps on November 15. However, the pivotal dates to monitor are the games slated for the week of February 7, 9, and 11. Extracting over 40 players from their PWHL teams for an entire week could signify a league-wide “In-Season Break” as outlined in the collective bargaining agreement. Imagining these players balancing national team commitments with PWHL duties during a Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday sequence in different cities would be a considerable challenge. This, coupled with travel between Regina, Saskatoon, and St. Paul, makes for a demanding schedule. Notably, the NHL All-Star game on February 3, a rumored target for potential PWHL collaboration, could further impact the league’s schedule in February. Additionally, the league will need to observe another hiatus from April 4 to April 14 to accommodate the IIHF women’s World Championship in Utica, New York.

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The introduction of head-to-head competition within the PWHL, apart from NCAA-invited players, is poised to be a game-changer in future Rivalry Series roster selections. While the PWHPA hinted at this concept, assessing talent across the PHF and PWHPA, alongside rising stars, was a challenging task with only a single game opportunity. Now, the PWHL offers a season-long platform for Canada and USA to gauge the top North American players in direct competition. This shift may open doors for past national team members and fresh talents alike, reshaping the landscape of Team Canada and Team USA.

The Series as a Talent Showcase: Much like the men’s World Championships, the Rivalry Series now provides an arena for top NCAA prospects to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with North American professionals, offering a unique scouting opportunity. Last season, notable prospects from both Canada and the USA were brought into the Rivalry Series, and this trend is set to continue, with potential draft candidates vying for recognition.

Navigating Injuries and Involvement: Injuries, though undesirable, are an inevitable part of competitive sports. How the PWHL responds to such incidents could shape its future involvement in the Rivalry Series. Balancing concerns over player well-being, insurance, and contractual obligations is a crucial consideration. As the Series schedules itself around PWHL breaks, this could provide a chance for players to recuperate in an increasingly demanding calendar for professional women’s hockey.

Expanding Horizons: The Rivalry Series games in November and December offer a prime opportunity to showcase the inaugural season of the PWHL. With national television coverage, these games will not only spotlight the national teams but also serve as a platform to highlight where these players will be competing in the PWHL over the winter. Specifically, games in Ontario and the February match in Minnesota present exceptional chances to cultivate fan bases for teams in Minnesota, Ottawa, and Toronto.


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