Hilary Knight joining CWHL's Les Canadiennes for playoff run

Team USA star Hilary Knight is heading to Canada.

Fresh off a gold medal in the 2018 Olympics, the 28-year-old forward signed a contract with Montreal and will join the defending Canadian Women's Hockey League champion Les Canadiennes for their playoff run. Details of the deal were not announced.

Knight was drafted fourth overall by the Boston Blades in the 2012 CWHL Draft. In 2013, she became the first American-born player to win the CWHL's Most Valuable Player award. In three seasons with the Blades, she won two Clarkson Cups and posted 29 goals and 33 assists in 41 regular-season games. In 2015, she joined the Boston Pride of the NWHL, which is based in the United States.

"I'm very excited for this opportunity to get back on the ice and to play in Montreal in front of Fabs fans," Knight said in a Les Canadiennes news release. "It's always an honour to be able to promote women's hockey, and my goal is to help Montreal defend their title as Clarkson Cup Champions."

The team said Knight is expected to practice with the team on Thursday, and is scheduled to make her debut on Sunday in a game against Calgary.

Knight is the third American free agent to join the CWHL mid-season, joining Alex Carpenter and Megan Bozek. All three players competed in the NWHL last season. There have been calls for the two leagues to merge.

"The biggest challenge [in promoting women's hockey] right now is having two separate leagues with Canada and the U.S.," American Amanda Kessel told ESPN in February, shortly before the Olympics. "Maybe if we combined to one league and had six to eight teams, keep it small to start. It would be super, super-talented. To go get both countries on board? It would be great entertainment."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman addressed the matter recently. "We are going to let the landscape sort itself out," he told reporters. "If those two leagues didn't exist, we would probably start our own women's league to work in conjunction with our existing clubs."

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