NHL to Launch Women's League?

After being warned that women's hockey must become more competitive in order to remain part of the Winter Olympics, representatives of the sport have been in talks with the National Hockey League to form an NHL-supported women's league. "I think we have the ear of the NHL," Hayley Wickenheiser, a Canadian forward who is considered one of the sport's greatest female players, told Women's United Soccer Association.)

Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, confirmed Wickenheiser's remarks to The Times, stating that discussions have taken place over a number of months and were very preliminary. But they are aimed at setting up a "women's league or women's competition," he said.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge said during the 2010 Winter Games that women's hockey "cannot continue without improvement" - raising concerns that the sport could go the way of softball, which was dropped from the 2012 Olympics because of the dominance of Team USA. The United States has 60,000 registered female hockey players, and Canada has 80,000, according to The Times. But of the next 12 countries that support women's hockey, none have more than 5,000 players, and most have only a few hundred.

Wickenheiser said she favors a women's league featuring post-college players from North America and Europe, which she says could result in more internationally balanced competition every four years at the Winter Games.

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