Toronto officially has a new professional women’s hockey franchise, with a name and everything (official announcement).
As the much-awaited answer to the question of “what franchise will replace the Toronto Furies?”: today, we have The Six. On April 22 of this year, the National Women’s Hockey League announced that it would be expanding into Toronto after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded, causing the loss of the Toronto Furies.
As we await even more branding information, especially what the jerseys will look like, one can imagine some sweet gold-and-red infused sweaters not unlike (but unlike enough from) the Vegas Golden Knights’ kit.
Choosing “The Six” will undoubtedly be a controversial choice, and admittedly I found it strange at first, but the more I think about it, the better it is. The 67’s, the 49ers, the 76ers… there’s a great history of professional sports teams being named for numbers that represent the unique area that the team is located in. While not rooted in national history in the more traditional sense, The Six is a popular moniker for our nation’s largest city and certainly will be a part of our popular culture history, even beyond the reach of this NWHL franchise.
Popularized by Drake, the ambassador for the Toronto Raptors and most recent NBA champion, naming themselves “The Six” is an appeal for attention to young Torontonians, Ontarians, and Canadians at large, and they deserve it. Toronto will be the first and only Canadian franchise in the NWHL, which was founded in 2015.
The importance of professional hockey as a role model machine for young women across the world cannot be understated, and this emergence of a franchise to support is only a small one of a multitude of efforts to achieve growth for women everywhere.
Who’s on the Roster?
Well, unfortunately, the roster won’t feature any of the most popular names in women’s hockey at the moment. Members of the Canadian and American national teams have banded together to help form the Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association (PWHPA).
I don’t mean that the team will be completely bare of talent, though. The team started off its roster construction by recruiting five former CWHL players right off the hop (announcement):
- Shiann Darkangelo (F) (EP page)
- Kristen Barbara (D) (EP page)
- Elaine Chuli (G) (EP page)
- Emma Greco (D) (EP page)
- Taylor Woods (F) (EP page)
The five-round NWHL draft also recently completed, in which Toronto originally held the first overall pick. They traded this pick, along with their 5th round pick (29th overall), to the Boston Pride in exchange for firsts in 2020 (6th overall) and 2021, and a second round pick in 2021. All together, Toronto selected a fine group of four Canadian women for its franchise (all information below from EliteProspects.com):
- 6th overall pick: Jaycee Gebhard (F) (EP page)
- 8th overall pick: Amy Curlew (F) (EP page)
- 15th overall pick: Erin Locke (F) (EP page)
- 22nd overall pick: Natalie Marcuzzi (F) (EP page)
Of this group, Curlew and Marcuzzi have both signed contracts with the team. Jaycee Gebhard signed with the Swedish women’s hockey league franchise Brynäs IF, and Erin Locke has not officially announced a signing with any team.
Toronto has also more recently announced contracts for the following players:
- Kelly Babstock (link to announcement) (EP page)
- Sarah-Eve Coutu Godbout (link to announcement) (EP page)
- Brooke Boquist (link to announcement) (EP page)
- Mikyla Grant-Mentis (link to announcement) (EP page)
- Samatha Ridgewell (G) (link to announcement) (EP page)
- Jenna McParland (F) (link to announcement) (EP page)
A more detailed breakdown of the roster will be covered in a future post closer to the commencement of the 2021-21 NWHL season, when a full roster picture can be imagined.