After watching the Canadian women edge out the Americans in the NHL All-Star Weekend's three-on-three event Friday, Mitch Marner and Frederik Andersen are voicing their support for the establishment of a viable women's professional hockey league.
"I think a lot of those players can play in this league. They got a lot of skill," Marner said, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox. "You saw it out there. I mean, the plays some of them made and the moves they were making, it was impressive to see."
The Toronto Maple Leafs forward is in favor of the NHL forming a WNHL, according to Fox.
"A lot of those players are great players, and to see them not in a league right now is disappointing," Marner said. "I really hope they get a league back up and running."
After the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) folded last year, players from both the CWHL and National Women's Hockey League announced they wouldn't play in any North American professional league for the 2019-20 season.
Instead, over 200 players formed the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association (PWHPA). The PWHPA's stated goal is to "promote, advance, and support a single, viable professional women's ice hockey league in North America."
Members of the PWHPA have appeared at the ECHL All-Star Classic, NHL All-Star Weekend, and have toured throughout North America to showcase their talent. All 20 players that participated in the three-on-three event at All-Star Weekend are a part of the PWHPA.
Andersen, whose younger sister, Amalie, plays hockey for the University of Maine, hopes there will soon be viable opportunities for women beyond the collegiate level.
"I don't know what the right answer is, but of course I want to see a women's side in the game for young girls to dream of playing in," the Maple Leafs goalie said. "I know firsthand with my sister. She goes to college. And after that, I don't know what really is the future.
"I think it's just important we keep trying to grow it and, hopefully, down the road, they can have something to strive for besides playing college."
Canadian forward Sarah Nurse, who participated in the three-on-three event, thought the competition was a great way to help further the goals of the PWHPA.
"It was a fabulous event," Nurse said, according to The Canadian Press. "For the current state of women's hockey and what we're doing this year, it was the perfect opportunity to really get that visibility and exposure."
The next PWHPA showcase will take place in Philadelphia on Feb. 29.