This past weekend was the second annual CWHL All Star Game in Toronto! It was a great experience so I wanted to do a quick recap.
I did attend the first annual All Star Game last year, but as a fan. My friend Shanna and I flew up just for the experience and had a great time visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame and sightseeing.
This year was obviously different, attending as a GM and in a work-related capacity. We arrived on Friday, checked into the hotel, grabbed some food and right away had a meeting.
The CWHL really went all out in terms of making everyone feel welcome at the hotel. Door tags hung on player/staff/coaches doors, balloons decorated the lobby, and logos were put on the hotel elevators.
After the meeting, we had some down time to get ready for the draft.
The draft included some mingling and socializing before everyone gathered in a room at the hotel. Players were announced and walked in one by one, taking their seats in the front rows. Captains announced their starting line, and Watch was selected by Natalie Spooner as a starter. It was a proud moment because we all know how hard she works and how much she deserves that.
Then the rest of the picks were announced by stick draw. As each players was selected, they were briefly interviewed on stage. Once it was complete everyone took one big photo and then some individual/group photos.
As you can see Brownie ended up on team Black and the three other Blades ended up on team White. Not really sure how that happened but I think it’s always nice to switch things up a bit once in a while, for the players to play with others rather than against them sometimes.
The CWHL also announced at the draft that GMs would be dropping the puck at the All Star Game. This really meant a lot to me because being a GM is allowing me to live my dream working in professional hockey. It’s also allowing me to live a life by design and has helped me to find my true happiness. GMs really put in a lot of work behind the scenes and it’s not always something people see – the day to day operations of the team. So it was nice to be recognized for that as well, and recognize the fact that the CWHL has given all of us, as women, this opportunity that is usually reserved for men in pro hockey.
Dropping the puck at Air Canada Center was incredible and definitely something I’ll never forget.
From there we headed up to a suite where we got to meet a lot of league sponsors and special guests. It was great to be able to personally thank them for all they do for our league.
Of course we watched the game and you know how that ended, with a Black team win, but everyone had fun and that is the most important part of the All Star Game after all.
After the game, tons of little girls made their way down to ice level by the locker rooms. I was outside of the Black team locker room when Brownie came out and she was absolutely swarmed by these excited and energetic little girls. She found a little one she wanted to give a stick to, so she signed it and give it to her, it was adorable. Brownie spent some time signing a lot stuff for so many of those little girls before she headed back into the locker room to get changed. I hope it made her feel like a rock star, and that is an unbelievable feeling that not many people get to experience.
After the game GMs decided to meet with each other informally and compare notes. I honestly think that face time is so important in jobs/situations like this because “isolation” can be really tough. Phone calls just aren’t the same, so to get face time and actual time together to compare notes on how we run our organization, is amazing. I think we all came away with some great ideas after that.
Saturday night we all had dinner together – players, coaches, GMs, and the CWHL staff who worked so hard to make the weekend happen – and just enjoyed our time together.
Sunday morning was full of more meetings and then it was off to the airport.
Billy Bishop is a unique airport in Toronto. Only one airline flies in an out of that one – Porter – and let me tell you, the Porter crew in Boston recognizes us when we fly in and out of there practically every other weekend (or at least it feels that way).
What I love about it is how fast it is, and they only board like 15 minutes before your plane leaves, so you can kind of take your time. Luckily on Sunday that meant we had more time to watch the Patriots game while we were waiting for our flight to board. Obviously it didn’t end as we hoped, though 😦
Overall it was an amazing weekend and it just reminds us that we all work for something bigger in women’s hockey. When we get hung up on the little things, the day to day…sometimes it’s just nice to think back about why we are all really here.