A new chapter in the storied hockey rivalry between Boston and Montreal was written this past weekend when the Blades defeated two-time defending champion the Stars to win this year’s Clarkson Cup.
Or did you think this was about the Bs, the Habs, and Lord Stanley?
Meet the Boston Blades, Beantown’s championship women’s hockey team, and the city’s “best kept secret,” a recent Boston Globe article notes. (Who knew there was a women’s hockey league? Not I, until reading the Globe story.)
“Now in their third season, the Blades are in the wrong league. Literally. They are the only United States entry in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League,” Stan Grossfield writes for the Boston Globe. “They are professionally run, but they don’t pay their players. Ticket prices are cheaper than admission to high school hockey games.”
Home games are played in Somerville (at Veterans Memorial Rink). Practices are sometimes cut short when Pee Wee Hockey needs the rink. Many of the Blades players are U.S. Olympians. The league is, quite obviously, a labor of love.
The Blades’ coach Digit Murphy, for example, won more games than most while managing the Brown University women’s team, but she’s not exactly collecting a six-figure salary and giving nightly post game press conferences on NESN.
“Besides leading the Blades, Murphy raises six children at home, and does consulting work and TV commentary,” continues Grossman. “Her Blades salary is roughly equivalent to what she could make flipping burgers at McDonald’s. Her Somerville office doubles as a skate storage room, when the referees aren’t also using it. Murphy commutes from Rhode Island for twice-a-week practices in Somerville and buys her own gas.”
Murphy is thankful that the Blades play in a league whose fans appreciate the game, regardless of the gender of its players.
“Sex sells here [in the U.S.]. It’s a different mind-set,” she says. “It’s a tough line to draw between being sexist and exploiting [the players] for being female … We really care about the hockey. Because we are a Canadian league, the hockey really does sell in Canada.”
Hopefully, it can start selling better Stateside, as the Blades defend their Cup championship next season, and after as well.