The NWHL has announced two more big signings for the inaugural season of the league.
Kacey Bellamy, a two-time Olympian, has signed with the Boston Pride, GM Haley Moore announced on Tuesday evening. That announcement was followed Wednesday morning by the news that Boston has also acquired Olympian Brianna Decker.
Bellamy, a former University of New Hampshire defenseman is highly decorated, garnering First Team All-American honors in her senior season. She finished her college career in 2009 with 27 goals and 107 points in 143 games.
Moore said in a release from the team, “Kacey is one of the best defensemen in the game… She’s tough, dynamic, and has great vision.”
On the international stage, Bellamy has two silver medals playing for the U.S. in the Olympics as well as five gold medals earned at the IIHF Women’s World Championships. Bellamy was a part of the U.S. Squad that took home gold at worlds this year in Malmö, Sweden, with the Massachusetts native being named one of the top-there players in the tournament for the States.
— Boston Pride (@TheBostonPride) September 23, 2015
Decker, a Wisconsin native, was also among the team’s top three players in the tournament.
She played for the Badgers from 2009 to 2013, scoring an incredible 244 points and winning the Patty Kazmaier Award for the best women’s hockey player in collegiate hockey in 2012.
She has a decorated history on the international stage as well, winning silver in the 2014 Winter Olympics and grabbing three gold medal and a silver for the U.S. women’s team in Women’s World Championship play.
Lavishing praise on the forward, Moore said, via the NWHL website, “Brianna is one of the best players in the game, not just today, but ever.”
Both Decker and Bellamy played for the Clarkson Cup champion Boston Blades in the CWHL last season. Bellamy was also a part of the Blades’ 2013 championship team and Decker was named CWHL rookie of the year last year, scoring 16 goals and 16 assists, as well as two goals in the championship game.
And that’s where we get to an interesting wrinkle in this process.
It was reported by Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale that the CWHL was making it difficult for some players to obtain transfers from the CWHL to the NWHL back in August.
While the nature of those difficulties has not been disclosed — whether it was intentional and out frustration, with so many CWHL players jumping ship or if it was a result of a lot of requests coming through a small staff who was overwhelmed with paperwork — but that played a hand in this delayed announcement from the Pride.
The NWHL had an August 17 deadline for all teams to have signed their roster for the inaugural season. When the date came, full rosters were not announced.
The NWHL released this announcement:
Out of respect for the players, the NWHL has agreed to not announce the remaining players’ intent to play in the league until they receive official releases from other leagues … The NWHL still plans to announce the final team rosters and contract details as soon as the players are ready.
So, it’s likely that both Decker and Bellamy had signed on the dotted line by August 17, but hang ups with the transfer kept the team from announcing until now.
While the details on exactly how this has played out behind the scenes has not come to light, these announcements of major players on the international stage transferring to the upstart league is likely tied to contract difficulties with the CWHL.
It will be an interesting season for both leagues, as there is likely to be a battle for women’s hockey fans between the two leagues, first becoming apparent in this battle to bring the best talent into their respective leagues.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.