When Connor McDavid hits the ice on Saturday nights on Hockey Night in Canada, do the announcers talk about his girlfriend or what her job is? The answer is no. You don’t have to ask around, we all know the answer. At the NHL All-Star skills competition this past Friday night in San Jose, Kendall Coyne Schofield (an Olympic gold medalist) replaced Nathan MacKinnon, who was unable to skate due to a bruised foot.
Coyne participated in the Fastest Skater Competition, in which she completed her lap in 14.346 seconds.
Some people are going to question why anyone should complain — I mean, Coyne did get to skate at the skills competition, and was the first woman ever to do it, right? She did an outstanding job in her competition and was applauded by many of the NHL players afterwards, right? It looks great for women’s hockey, right?
Yes, to all of those things, but the real issue here is that in the time that Coyne got on screen, the announcers chose to talk about her husband, instead of her own hockey accomplishments. When the NHL listed the scores for players, Coyne was included on the list of who finished first, second, third and so forth. Why? She competed in the same competition, right? She scored better than some of the men, right? Why doesn’t she get recognized alongside all of the other players who competed in the exact same competition? Because the world is still trying to wrap their head around women being just as good or better than men in sports.
Now, onto the Premier Passing Competition. Brianna Decker competed in this one (also an Olympic gold medalist) and won. She beat every single NHL player and beat the fastest NHL player by three seconds. But who was listed as the winner of the competition? Not Decker.
The NHL players who won their respective competitions received $25,000 as a prize. Is Brianna Decker going to get that money? No — and for no good reason. Saturday night, however, CCM, a hockey equipment company, stepped up and wrote a letter to Decker that said (among other things), “We understand the importance of recognizing female hockey players and are pleased to give you the $25,000 that you deserve.”
CCM did things right. They did right by women’s hockey and all female athletes. The NHL could have been the ones to get praise after this weekend, but merely allowing women to compete isn’t enough. If women are going to get to compete (which they should, every year, in all competitions) they deserve to be recognized for the results they earn in their competitions.
After CCM had already announced they would pay Decker, the NHL announced they would donate $25,000 in each woman’s name to the charity or hockey program of their choice (Decker, Coyne and Canadian Olympians Renata Fast and Rebecca Johnston). There is nothing wrong with or even negative about the NHL’s donation, however, the issue is that the NHL was reactive — they reacted to someone else doing the right thing before them. If the NHL is going to allow other people to compete in their competitions, they need to be prepared to give them credit where credit is due (or in this case, a paycheck when a paycheck is due).