*hockey

Starting in October 2015, the U.S. will finally have its own professional hockey league for women.

The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is launching four teams for its first season: Boston Pride, Connecticut Whale, the Buffalo Beauts, and the New York Riveters.


A professional league means better publicity for women’s hockey, but for many players the most important aspect is the money.

According to Yahoo, the league will pay each of the four teams $270,000 for player salaries. That comes to $15,000 per player per season, although it probably won’t be split evenly across the board.

This may sound like a pittance compared to the multimillion dollar contracts signed by male hockey stars like Sidney Crosby ($12 million this season plus $4.5 million in endorsements), but it’s a lot more than what female hockey players were being paid before: Nothing.

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Here’s why Steve Downie is a good story: young hockey phenom grows up with an older brother, a loving mom, and a dad always willing to take his young boys to hockey practice. Then, on an slippery night in 1996, Downie and his father were in a car wreck. The boy was unscathed; his father died instantly.

Like any other family suffering through a tragedy, the Downies persevered, and his mother, Anne, suddenly became a single mother in charge of two boys, one with some legit hockey talent. She shuttled both her boys off to practice, the older one, Greg, a goalie, was a pretty good player himself, but Anne knew that Steve had something special, that he was one of the blessed, from the great white north who had the potential to make his country’s frozen past-time a full-time job. He was a passionate kid, and always a fighter ever since the first time junior players were allowed to stop skating around in pretty circles popping goal after goal into the net and actually start whacking people. Steve took to the aggressiveness early, refining his game to become not only a goal scorer, but a pesky tough guy and leader on the ice as well. His quickly became more and more of a big game player and began shining as a teenager for his club team.

As a teenager, Downie also lost his hearing in his right ear, due to a rare bone disorder ostosclerosis, which zapped the right ear drum. His mother remembers it being really loud in the house that day and then, all of the sudden, her boy couldn’t hear. That’s it. Poof. Gone. What about hockey, now? No pressure, get a hearing aid, and move on. There are worse things in life. This, plus the car accident , are the two instances in young Steve Downie’s life that many find as easy marks for psychoanalytical building blocks that make-up Steve Downie the hockey player. These are they heavy chips laid on his teenage shoulders, the ones that give him the itchy trigger finger when it comes to finding that turbo-boost button of aggression, to take on guys a full-head taller and more broad-shouldered than his 5’10, 180 frame, to drop the gloves, to slash that stick like a scythe, to pick at players, to finish his checks with barbaric purpose, and keep at it keep at it until there’s a victory.

—  A.J. Daulerio: Steve Downies Crazy Head