U.S. women’s hockey star Kendall Coyne Schofield blasted this week’s decision to cancel the 2021 Women’s World Championship.
The decision was made Wednesday by health officials in Nova Scotia out of safety concerns because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament had been scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro from May 6-16.
“This does not mean that we will not have a Women’s World Championship in 2021,” International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said. “We owe it to every single player that was looking forward to getting back on the ice after such a difficult year that we do everything possible to ensure this tournament can be moved to new dates and played this year.”
While understanding the need for health and safety, Coyne Schofield, who with Team USA won an Olympic gold medal in 2018, was upset about the lack of a contingency plan to hold the tournament in case the Nova Scotia site didn’t work.
“There was not one positive case,” she tweeted on Thursday. “Every single country, player and staff member committed to the protocols the Nova Scotia health officials outlined and we successfully did everything that was asked of us in order to safely compete – until we were told we couldn’t.
“We are all wrecked. Devastated for so many reasons. But to learn that was there was no contingency plan and the IIHF is letting 250 of the best players in the world return to their homes today with, ‘We are seeking new dates,’ is simply unacceptable.”
The 2020 women’s tournament was also canceled by the pandemic.
USA Hockey said in a statement that it “shared the heartbreak of our athletes and staff who put so much in preparing for the World Championship.” It also expressed confidence that the IIHF and Hockey Canada would be able to hold the tournament sometime during the summer.
Coyne Schofield said she had many questions and wanted transparency.
“Does that mean we should keep training every single day like we have been since the last international competition two years ago – without knowing when or even if – the tournament will be played?” she asked. “Should our staff be prepared to tell their families and jobs they may be packing up for another potential 31 days if new dates are being sought out?”
The men’s world junior championships were held in Edmonton, Alberta, in December and January, and the men’s under-18 tournament was moved from Michigan to Texas and is scheduled to be played next week.
Kendall Coyne wanted to know why the IIHF didn’t consider switching the women’s tournament “knowing the climate of Halifax.”
“This response shows the lack of care the IIHF had when it comes to making sure the Women’s Worlds was successful like the other international hockey events we have so joyfully watched over the last year and will be watching very soon,” Coyne Schofield said. “Those tournaments had contingency plans and plans to pivot the locations if the dialogue between the tournament and local health officials couldn’t be mutually agreed upon.
“Like so many of us, I’m tired of saying this … but even more exhausted from feeling it: Women’s hockey, once again, deserves more and better.”