One of the best women’s hockey players in the world is asking some tough questions today, a day after the cancellation of the IIHF Women’s World Championship.
The tournament was supposed to take place in Halifax and Truro May 6 to 16, but was cancelled due to the Province of Nova Scotia’s tough measures on controlling the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the second year in a row the Women’s Worlds have been cancelled.
Today the province announced near full-lockdown measures after 38 new cases were reported — Nova Scotia’s largest single-day increase in nearly a year.
The plan for incoming players was to include a bubble, similar to the successful plans executed for the World Juniors and Stanley Cup playoffs in Edmonton and Toronto.
Team USA star player Kendall Coyne Schofield has spoken out. While she said she understands and agrees with putting health and safety first, Coyne Schofield wants to know why there wasn’t a contingency plan in place. Currently Hockey Canada and the IIHF have indicated that they intend to stage the tournament later this year, but no set plans are in place.
“We are all wrecked. Devastated for so many reasons,” said Coyne Schofield in a statement posted to Twitter.
“To learn that there was no contingency plan and the IIHF is letting 250 of the best players in the world to their homes today with, ‘we are seeking new dates’ — is simply unacceptable.”
“We’re seeking transparency and answers. The players, staff, countries and game deserve better.”
We Deserve To Compete In The World Championships… pic.twitter.com/AnNfDSZ428
— Kendall Coyne Schofield (@KendallCoyne) April 22, 2021
Players from the 10 competing countries were already ramping up preparations in anticipation of the start of the tournament. That included a number of strong safety measures that began prior to the start of training camps, outlined below by Canada’s Blayre Turnbull.
I am completely disappointed in the province of Nova Scotia’s decision to cancel the 2021 WWC.
The health and safety of the people in Nova Scotia has always been our number one priority. To ensure this, Hockey Canada, our medical staff, and the IIHF put these protocols in place: pic.twitter.com/NzrpnIbEV1
— Blayre Turnbull (@katbt617) April 22, 2021
IIHF president Rene Fasel called it “disappointing news” given it came just 15 days before the tournament was supposed to start. “We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton,” he said.
The men’s World Championship is still set to begin in Latvia next month.
The U18 World Championship is also going ahead as planned, set for Frisco and Plano, Texas, beginning on April 26. That tournament was originally supposed to take place in Michigan.
“This response shows the lack of care that the IIHF had when it came to making sure the Women’s Worlds was successful like the other international hockey events we have so joyfully watched over the last year and will be watching very soon. Those tournaments had contingency plans and plans to pivot the location if the dialogue between the tournament and local health officials couldn’t be mutually agreed upon,” said Coyne Schofield.
“Like so many of us, I’m tired of saying this… but even more exhausted from feeling it: Women’s hockey, once again, deserves more and better.
“We deserve a World Championship before the end of this hockey season — it has been 739 days since the last.”