A Great Day for Women’s Hockey

I managed to get home and watch the DVR’d USA v. Canada women’s hockey game before anyone could tell me the score (now that was a gold medal effort!). I watched every second of a great game, possibly the best women’s hockey I’ve seen. Although USA didn’t win (0-2), I was never so proud of women’s hockey.

 What I wasn’t proud of was the male commentator (I love Cammi Granato in the booth as a 2-time Olympian, she added great insight and I hope to see more of her as a sport commentator) who throughout the entire game called the women “ladies” (which has been critiqued previously in this blog). Three or more times when a great play was made by a Canadian woman, he compared her to a Canadian male hockey player, “Poulin handles the puck like Sidney Crosby”. Why not just say, “Wow, what great stick handling!” and leave it at that. You’d never hear the reverse.

Despite this annoying commentator, it was a fun game to watch. Seeing the US team get their medals and watch how each player held back tears after years of preparation culminated in this one game, I got choked up. The veterans like 4-time Olympians Angela Ruggiero and Jenny Potter, and 3-time Olympian Natalie Darwitz were holding back tears probably for different reasons than their 15  first-time Olympian teammates. How cool would it be as a young girl to see these great women play a sport you love? I never saw women playing hockey on TV growing up. It wasn’t until adulthood I traded in my figure skates for hockey skates. Now I play in the Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota (WHAM) with some of the aunts and cousins of current Team USA Olympians–women who would of made the Olympic team in their prime, if a team existed at that time. (note: I don’t play at their level!) WHAM is the largest women’s hockey league in the US, with over 80 teams at 7 levels.  Hockey is a great game and living in The State of Hockey, Minnesota, I can tell you we do breathe hockey here. Seeing Minnesota natives and women who played on the University of Minnesota women’s hockey team be a part of  Team USA is pretty cool.

You could tell Team USA was disappointed, but I think the gesture of Angela Ruggiero putting her arm around the rookie player in the medal line next to her as if to say “I know how you feel, but enjoy this moment” was telling of the character of the entire team.  Congratuations to both teams! What a great day for women’s hockey!

13 Replies to “A Great Day for Women’s Hockey”

  1. Devil’s advocate on a couple of things:

    Why isn’t “ladies” good? It’s not the diminutive “girls,” though it isn’t women, and just seems to me to be a way to refer to adult women in the same way that “guy” is a way to refer to men. But, then, I’m a guy.

    Also, I suspect referring to Crosby isn’t meant to demean, but to familiarize. I know only a few women’s hockey players, as I’ll guess is true of most Olympics watchers, but Crosby gives me a frame of reference for what Poulin can do with the puck that an abstract compliment wouldn’t. You wouldn’t hear the reverse because it would be odd to compare the known value of Crosby to an unknown.

    If women’s hockey were better known, there would have been more and better options. But it’s possible, maybe probable, that Crosby was the best one, despite the unfortunate cross-gender comparison.

    I also wonder what your take would be on commentary in football, basketball, and baseball often hewing to comparisons of players on race (i.e. Tyler Hansbrough being compared to white players, or all black quarterbacks being judged against each other).

    You also have two different spellings of Ruggiero in the piece, but I figure you care more about substantive comments, rather than minor edits! Keep writing, and I’ll keep enjoying what you write.


  2. The male commentator drove me a little crazy too, but I do have to give him props for encouraging people to find a university in their area with women’s hockey. A little plug for the college level was surprising, and nice.


  3. And what do you make of the Canadian’s public, on Olympic ice, beer-swilling, cigar-smoking celebration? Perhaps that is not an issue you want to address here, but I’d be curious about your take on that. I am so excited for our steps forward as female athletes and then moments like that just make me realize some athletes (male / female) just don’t posses a sense of graciousness and class that once was. Perhaps I romanticize previous eras or am ignorant to other similar celebrations, but the photos from that celebration are just darn sad.


    1. I hadn’t seen the pics yet, but without seeing them I think that type of celebration for a women’s team is somewhat unheard of!?, and kind of awesome! It is usually reserved for men’s sports. Is this progress? -nml


    1. Cindy…I misread your first post! I thought you were referring to the FANS celebrating that way, not the PLAYERS! I get it now and have seen the pics and the story. I think that is definitely inappropriate for the players, and certainly NOT good for the women’s hockey! wow. -nml


  4. Sorry about that – I meant to write Canadian Team’s display. I appreciate your perspective on various topics, so thanks for sharing your perspective. I agree – not good for hockey, and up and coming young athletes.


  5. 15 olympians are from U of Minnesota . It was a great game , but I felt they were in trouble when they did not get any great scoring chances when they had the 5on 3 advantage.Now the fallout from the Canadians post game on ice celebration may diminish the quality of the game and get most of the medias’ attention.


  6. I watched the CTV version of this game so I can’t comment on the male broadcaster except to say that the Canadians also compared a player(forgot who, probably Poulin) to Crosby. I think its a matter of Crosby being famous, not a man. Sad that the US couldn’t win the gold, but Canada played a great game, and were the better team on the ice and it’s always cool to see a team win at home. It’s too bad Women’s hockey is a joke outside of North America. And I have no issues with the celebration (looked more like a marketing stunt by Molson) although I don’t know if it has precedent.

    On a related note, I’ve always thought Women’s hockey needs more feminine uniforms, or at least something besides a full face mask(which the men wear in college anyways) to differentiate men’s hockey from women’s hockey visually. Why should we force girls who might want to play this sport to dress like men. Most girls are pretty protective of their feminine image and the uniforms could hamper the growth of the sport. The most successful, mainstream women’s sports allow their athletes to dress like women.(golf, figure skating, tennis, volleyball) The uniforms in hockey, and for that matter basketball, send a message to young girls who might otherwise enjoy the game that its a man’s sport, and that’s unfortunate. Plus more feminine uniforms would increase its spectator appeal to men. I don’t know. Maybe that makes me sexist.


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