The planet’s only professional hockey league for women got a notable boost Wednesday when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League added Arlene Dickinson – wildly successful businesswoman, author, philanthropist, and TV personality on CBC’s Dragons' Den reality investment show – to its board of directors.
Since its inception in 2007, the five-team CWHL has been making slow-but-steady inroads in the business community, but the presence on the board (which also includes Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke, CBC analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascal and Trina Crosby, mother of Sidney Crosby) of Dickinson, a savvy venture capitalist and master marketer, can only accelerate that process. Anyone who’s seen her operate on Dragon’s Den has seen a thoughtful woman well-connected to the world around her and someone passionate about more than just making a buck.
Considering the CWHL is still not close to paying its players a livable salary, there’s no way Dickinson is working with the league because its teams are about to turn a profit. She’s in it because it’s an organization that empowers women, and she’s aiming to ensure it prospers.
“The opportunity to contribute to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, was something I simply could not pass up," Dickinson said in a statement. “The remarkable success of the league in just six seasons is a testament to the powerful force of female entrepreneurs in this country. I look forward to working with the board and the league administration to build on its success.”
There will always be skeptics as to the long-term viability of women’s hockey, and to be sure, there are a number of serious challenges ahead. But it was only a few decades ago people laughed dismissively when it was suggested that one day, millions of Canadians would watch the women’s game played at its highest level. After the incredible performance of the U.S. and Canadian women’s national teams at numerous Olympic games, we know now how dumb those dinosaurs turned out to be.
So anyone who wants to sneer at the news of Dickinson’s association with the CWHL should know there’s every chance history will reveal their doubts were misplaced. The women’s game already has grown beyond the expectations of many – and the optics of a female business behemoth helping to push it forward couldn’t be a better indication of brighter days ahead.