Natter, natter what’s the matter with women’s hockey?

Statues don’t talk.

How ironic, therefore, that Budweiser and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association have plopped a statue at 33 Yonge St. in the Republic of Tranna, with the expectation that it will get gums flapping.

“How do we increase the conversation around visibility for women and representation? And this is just a really unique way, I think, to do it,” Jayna Hefford told CityNews in The ROT this week. “We hope it replicates the fearless girl in New York and people want to come down and see it and spark that conversation around how we can increase visibility for women in our sport.”

I have a better idea for Hefford and the women who govern Ponytail Puck—get your hockey house in order.

That way the rabble might be inclined to natter about you and buy your product.

The distaff side of the game, of course, remains a house divided, 2½ years after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League was ignored out of business by fans, media and, most important, well-heeled types who chose not to dig into their deep pockets to feed a bottomless money pit.

That left us with the Premier Hockey Federation (nee National Women’s Hockey League), which dropped the puck on its five-month, 7th season this past weekend, and the PWHPA, which doesn’t have a season. Or a league. Or a business plan that maps out the route to a living wage and full-on benefits, plus some other bells and whistles for its players. All it has is hit-and-miss, glorified and largely ignored 4-team scrimmages dressed up as the Dream Gap Tour.

Oh, almost forgot. It also has “The Game Is For All Of Us” statue on display until Nov. 15 at 33 Yonge St., which, come to think of it, is kind of like the Dream Gap Tour…now you see it, now you don’t.

One such bit of hijinks is scheduled for this weekend in Truro, N.S., a four-outfit, four-match PWHPA “tournament” featuring reps from base camps in Calgary, Montreal, Boston and the Republic of Tranna. After that? Who knows where or when? Maybe Kalamazoo. Maybe Moose Jaw. Maybe December. Maybe January. Maybe after the Winter Olympics in February.

The (unfortunate) thing is, the Dream Gappers’ preference is to keep Ponytail Puck splintered. They would rather run the risk of rot than forge a union with the six-team PHF, which features five U.S. partners and the Toronto Six, and provides its players with a paycheque, if not a living wage. (Each roster has a $300,000 salary cap.)

It’s not like they’re warring factions, at least not since the Dream Gappers and allies ceased flinging na-na-na-na-na schoolyard insults at the PHF. (“Glorified beer league” was among the low-brow put-downs, even as the PWHPA’s own traveling road show is a much closer kin to beer-league hockey.)

The two groups have actually engaged in natters, albeit none of them productive.

“I keep presenting a table and a bunch of chairs for people to sit down and really try to unify this going forward,” PHF commissioner Ty Tumminia recently told Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star. “We will always be here for a one-league concept, and unification will still continue to be here waiting for that to happen.

“If the PWHPA wants to unite, I think the window is starting to close. So I think they need to make a couple of decisions, whether that’s through leadership or their players to determine whether or not they want to grow the game together.

“I anticipate growing it together. I want that. We all want that. I think that’s what’s good for the sport. I don’t think it’s good for the sport to keep this narrative going on of trying to unite. We’ve got to actually unite. So I’m here for it. We’re here for it. The players have the platform. They’re the most powerful in the game. It’s up to them. They have to make the decision now.”

Turns out Tumminia might as well be talking to that statue at 33 Yonge St.

“If they were to come to us tomorrow and say, ‘Hey, everything, it’s all here, right here in front of you,’ maybe the conversation’s different,” the PWHPA operations consultant told McGran, one of the few scribes in mainstream media who pays attention to Ponytail Puck. “But we don’t want to settle when we think we can do better.”

They’ve been thinking they “can do better” for 2½ years, but the PWHPA delivers nothing but side shows and is no closer to a league of its own than St. John’s is to Tofino. Meanwhile, the PHF soldiers on with each outfit playing a 20-game schedule and wrapping it up with the Isobel Cup playoffs in March.

The impasse spells f-r-u-s-t-r-a-t-i-o-n for those of us who fancy Ponytail Puck and desire harmony in the form of one viable league, with more than one franchise in Canada.

Alas, there isn’t much hope when one side believes a temporary statue is a talking point.

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