Top guns part of new women’s hockey league



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New professional women's hockey league will debut next year Image: PWHL and NHL

The new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) was officially revealed on August 29th with six inaugural franchises and a 24-game regular season that begins in January 2024.

‘abcNEWS’ stated that the PWHL will feature three teams in the United States and three teams in Canada. The American franchises are located in Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the New York City area. The Canadian franchises are located in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario. Details on home arenas, team names and logos are forthcoming.

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) is a women’s ice hockey league in North America. It is a successor to the defunct Premier Hockey Federation (formerly the National Women’s Hockey League). The new league has the participation of the members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, a group of top American and Canadian players (including many national team players) who had refused to play in the PHF beginning in 2019.

‘abcNEWS’ further stated that the 2024 season schedule will be announced in the coming months. It’s expected to include a break for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship in April.

The Mohawk Valley Garden and the City of Utica, New York, will host the 2024 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championship. The event, slated for April 4th-14th, 2024, will include 31 games and feature the top women’s hockey players from across the world.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is a worldwide governing body for ice hockey. It is based in Zürich, Switzerland, and has 83 member-countries. The IIHF maintains the IIHF World Ranking based on international ice hockey tournaments.

The majority of the league’s founding players will be selected during the 2023 PWHL draft on September 18th.

The PWHL says it is in the “final stages” of securing six General Managers for the franchises, all of which are owned and operated by the league.

The PWHL is funded by the Major League Baseball (MLB) team Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter and his wife, Kimbra. The Mark Walter Group purchased assets of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in June to effectively dissolve that league in order to launch the PWHL as the only pro women’s hockey league in North America.

The PHF was founded in March 2015 as the National Women’s Hockey League, which at the time was the first women’s professional hockey league to pay its players. It was rebranded in September 2021. Five of the six PWHL franchises are in Cities that had PHF teams during the 2022-2023 seasons, all but Ottawa.

The demise of the PHF ended a multiyear feud between that organization and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), which was composed of stars from the United States and Canadian national teams. Those players were unwilling to join either the NWHL or the PHF, citing a lack of faith in their business models. The PWHPA toured North American arenas, playing a series of USA vs. Canada exhibition games in preparation for the international tournaments.

The PWHPA had been working with the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises for over a year to create a league of their own to compete with the PHF. Instead, the long journey to “one league” ended with the disbandment of the PHF with the formation of the PWHL.

The new league is supported by a Board of Directors that includes King, Sports Executive Ilana Kloss, Dodgers President Stan Kasten and Dodgers Senior Vice-President (VP) of Business Strategy Royce Cohen.

Commented Kasten, “On behalf of the ownership and our Board, I am honored to announce the official name of our new league, and to unveil the blueprint for this historic inaugural season. And we are especially proud to be providing this new platform for elite women athletes. Our great game has the power to captivate and connect sports fans everywhere, and we are thrilled to plant roots in six of North America’s most passionate hockey markets.”

Jayna Hefford, the Commissioner of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, is the PWHL’s Senior VP of Hockey Operations. Longtime National Hockey League (NHL) executive Brian Burke, who was fired as Pittsburgh Penguins President of Hockey Operations in April, will help run the PWHL Players’ Association.

Per the PWHL collective bargaining agreement (CBA), teams can have up to 20 players signed in advance of November’s training camps. Six players on each team will be signed to three-year contracts of “no less than $80,000 per league year”.

The collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) in professional sports are agreements amongst a sports league’s owners and players. A collective bargaining agreement for a specific league sets forth a set of agreed upon rules regarding the split of league revenues between the teams and the players, the level of salary caps imposed on teams, player transfers restrictions, player safety issues, player drafting provisions, free agency requirements, disciplinary rules, etc.

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