The Canadian Women's Hockey Team is Canada's Team Now
Posted on March 18, 2022
Image Credit: Annegret Hilse/Reuters
Back in late December when the NHL announced that their players wouldn’t be participating in the Olympics there was some pretty widespread disappointment. People were disappointed that they wouldn’t get to see players like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby play together, but for the most part, the disappointment seemed to be because the Canadian men likely wouldn’t be bringing home gold with all their best players not participating. This came to fruition, as the men’s team got eliminated from the tournament in the quarter-finals, their worst finish since 2006. After they got eliminated though, there wasn’t too much disappointment, if any at all. In fact, I don’t think anyone really cared. Why? Because the women’s team is Canada’s team.
If you’re unfamiliar, international women’s hockey is absolutely dominated by two teams, Canada and the United States. Since women’s hockey was added to the Olympics in 1998, every single gold medal has been won by either Canada (5, most recently in 2014) or the US (2, most recently in 2018), and every final has been between the two, with the exception of 2006, when Canada beat the Swedes for gold. Unlike the men’s side though, these teams don’t just face off against each other in the Olympics. They play each other year-round since, for most of them, this is their main team. They’re constantly battling to be the best in the world, and unsurprisingly, the competition has led to the two teams forming one of the fiercest rivalries in hockey for the past few decades.
With all that in mind, entering the 2022 Olympics these two teams were obviously heavy favourites, and the stakes were pretty high. I’m not going to recap the whole tournament because that’s not the point of this article, but after Canada beat the US in round-robin play, the two, faced off again in the finals, with Canada once again coming out on top thanks to a two-goal performance from Olympic legend and captain, Marie-Philip Poulin. In the past, the women’s tournament usually failed to draw as much attention as the men’s tournament, but this year, as I said before, no one really cared about the men. This year it was all about the women, and they didn’t disappoint.
Ever since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, there hasn’t been a best on best men, which for a while for many, left a void in the international hockey space. That void has been more than filled now though. The women’s gold medal hockey game drew in 2.7 million viewers in Canada, the most of any event at the games. In the US, NBC saw its lowest ratings of any Olympics, but the women’s finals still drew in more than 3.5 million viewers, more than any NHL game they had broadcasted this season. What makes this even more impressive is that the game started at 11pm ET, on a Wednesday night.
The lack of NHLers in the Olympics was obviously disappointing to many, but right now, it couldn’t matter any less. The women’s hockey finals absolutely dominated TV and solidified that the Canadian women’s hockey team is Canada’s team now. In the past when people said “Team Canada” I think a lot of us would assume they meant the men’s team. Going forward, you can just assume they’re talking about the women.
P.S. A rematch of the gold medal game is set for March 12 in Pittsburgh and will be streamed on Sportsnet One. Don’t let the Olympics being over stop you from watching Canada’s team play, this rivalry doesn’t take any breaks.