For a few days, the labor dispute between the United States Women’s Hockey Team and USA Hockey was a big story. The women’s team threatened to sit out the world championships without a collective bargaining agreement. A deal was struck and the team will take part in the tournament. The women’s team has achieved parity with the men’s team in travel and insurance costs.
In 1967, hockey was little more than a back-burner sport with sparse interest in the United States and that had much to do with National Hockey League owners refusing to expand the game.
The Original Six marketing tool is more about ineptitude than a misty-eyed look back. The NHL was whittled down to a six-team league because of World War II when the Brooklyn Americans franchise, which played in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden suspended operations in 1942 because Red Dutton didn’t think he would have enough players for the 1942-43 season. The NHL retired the franchise in 1946. From 1942 through 1967, there were three American teams who at one time were in some way controlled by the Norris family in Chicago and Detroit by team ownership and in New York with the arena ownership.
The league had teams in Boston, Montreal and Toronto. The NHL turned down an application for the dormant Montreal Maroons to surface in Philadelphia in 1946 and proposals from interested owners in Los Angeles and San Francisco in the 1940s and Cleveland in the 1950s were rejected. The NHL only expanded in 1966 because television money was available in the United States and the Western Hockey League with teams along the Pacific coast threatened to claim major league status.
The NHL today is international in scope, women’s hockey grew out of expansion and Title IX, a US federal law which gave girls greater educational opportunities. The Original Six impeded the growth of the hockey.
By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.