As the NHL lends an assist, top men’s players hope the new women’s hockey league thrives

United States' Kendall Coyne Schofield skates during the Skills Competition, part of the NHL All-Star weekend in Jan. 2019 in San Jose, Calif. The best women's hockey players in the world aren't the only ones in the sport excited about the new pro league launching in January. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Montreal Canadiens' Nick Suzuki (14) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Mitchell Marner (16) congratulate Canadian hockey player Sarah Nurse after she scored a goal during the NHL All Star Skills Showcase on Feb. 3 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)

Sharing the ice during NHL All-Star festivities and informal training skates and crossing paths at various Olympics over the past several years, some of the best men’s and women’s hockey players in the world got to talking. The state of the women’s game often came up.