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Hayley Wickenheiser: Pro women's league badly needed

Team Canada's Hayley Wickenheiser, right, jumps over Team USA's Meghan Duggan at the women's world hockey championships in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Is the future of women’s professional hockey in serious jeopardy?

Earlier this year, hundreds of players from both sides of the border said they would sit out until a concrete solution is found when it comes to the professional game after the Canadian Women’s Hockey league folded in May.

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Hayley Wickenheiser says the now-former CWHL and current NWHL are not the future and one professional league is badly needed. But, she adds, this could be a watershed moment.

“We’re in a growing pain and a bit of a transition time for the game,” she told 660 NEWS during a stop in Calgary to chat about Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charity. “Olympic hockey isn’t going to sustain women’s hockey forever. That’s no different than men’s side. You need something professional that people can watch it, day in and day out, and really have a following for it.”

Wickenheiser says this won’t deter many girls from playing the sport, but wants to make sure they always have somewhere to play in the future.

“For me, what the players have done by saying ‘we’re not going to play in any league until we get the right league’ is the best thing to do for the game and the way we have to move forward.”

She says the NHL could step in to help, but no official plans are in place.

READ MORE: Women’s hockey is at a tipping point

Wickenheiser is Canada’s most decorated women’s hockey player with multiple world championship and Olympic gold medals and a recipient of the Order of Canada.

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