Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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On Golden Ponds: "Consultant" Looked at WNHL Opportunity, Bettman Says

Top female goaltender retired due to no competitive league

By Jim Iovino
|  Thursday, Feb 20, 2014  |  Updated 10:24 AM EDT
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Bettman: "Consultant" Looked at WNHL Opportunity

Getty Images

Noora Raty #41 of Finland makes a save against United States during the Women's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A Game on day 1 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 8, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After Finland was ousted from the women's hockey tournament at the Sochi Olympics, goaltender Noora Raty, known far and wide as the best netminder in the sport, retired from women's hockey -- at the age of 24.

To explain her surprising decision, she tweeted out a lengthy letter that went into great detail about why she was retiring.

 

 

In the letter, Raty said she wants to play in a competitive league, and because there are no true competitive women's leagues in the world, she hopes to get a chance with a professional men's league.

In her letter, she bemoans the fact that there are no quality professional women's leagues where she can ply her trade. Here is part of that letter:

"In fact, I don't feel that women's hockey can grow or get any better in the future if the USA or Canada don't get a professional league started soon. That is the next critical step that our sport needs to take or our sport will never be respected like it should be. Asking players to work full-time and then training like a pro athlete at the same time is just too much and unfair."

Can a women's professional league get started in the U.S. or Canada? Is there a chance a WNBA-style WNHL could form, with the NHL's backing?

NBC's Al Michaels asked NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about it Thursday. Bettman admitted that the idea has been floated around league offices.

"We've actually had a consultant take a look at this for us," Bettman said.

But...

"The overall development of women's hockey at the grassroots level through the college level isn't at a point where a professional league is viable," he said. "But we very much believe in the importance of the women's game. But it's going to take some more time, more development. We're still trying to grow men's hockey."

So it appears that if Raty and other top women's hockey players around the world are looking for the NHL to offer them a league to play in, they're going to have to wait a lot longer. Or hope that a men's league will take a chance on them.

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