There's no question that women's hockey is going to have to get creative and aggressive in trying to create more equality in the game.
The players acknowledged as much on the weekend at the Clarkson Cup Championship, their version of the Stanley Cup. (That's the Minnesota Whitecaps celebrating above after their 4-0 win over the Brampton Thunder. Photo: Rick Eglinton)
American veteran Jenny Potter is right when she says the International Ice Hockey Federation needs to step to the plate in aiding the cause. It's doubtful that IIHF boss Rene Fasel wants to hand out one less set of medals at the Winter Games.
The IIHF and the women might want to examine what one man has been trying to do in international speed skating to lift up the have-not nations.
Dutch entrepreneur Marnix Wieberdink and his company Sport Navigator.nl recently announced they'd hired Canadian speed skating great Jeremy Wotherspoon for an international speed skating academy that will open in spring of 2011 in Inzell, Germany.
This academy is just the latest step in Wieberdink's campaign to try to build speed skating beyond the traditional powers. Like women's hockey, the sport has a small power base. It includes the Dutch, Canadians, Americans and Germans.
There's a whole bunch of smaller speed skating nations that don't have a prayer and Wieberdink has been trying to help give them one by supplying equipment and other essentials. He also has a travelling bus in Europe that has a place for them to warm up and warm down and also just chill out.
Wotherspoon was one of the skaters signed up by Sport Navigator.nl for its roster of sponsored athletes. He agreed to take half the amount of money he could get elsewhere for one of the logo spots on his racing suit so that he could help support speed skating's third world countries.
The idea of the academy – Wieberdink is converting a hospital in Inzell – is that athletes from the fringe speed skating countries will be able to get the coaching, medical, pyschological and other means of support that their peers from the major speed skating nations get regularly.
Somehow, a similar navigator needs to be found for the struggling women's hockey nations.