The PWHL (Professional Women’s Hockey League) announced more details about its new league, unveiling locations where the league’s six teams will play starting in January 2024. Teams will be split between Canada and the United States, with teams in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Boston, and the New York City area.
Tuesday’s announcement follows PWHL ownership’s acquisition of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) in June, effectively ending the PWHPA-PHF split. All seven PHF teams were dissolved upon the sale and the PWHL will debut with six entirely new teams.
We are the new era of women’s hockey.
— PWHL (@thepwhlofficial) August 29, 2023
Though the nearest team will be more than two hundred miles away from DC, the new league won’t be entirely devoid of Washington connections. PWHL board member Stan Kasten, currently president and co-owner of the LA Dodgers, previously served as president of the Washington Nationals from 2006 to 2010.
The PWHL has not announced any team’s home arena, but Kasten confirmed that the league will play in both AHL and OHL venues next season. The New York City-area squad is searching throughout the metropolitan region and could land in any of New York City, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Both New Jersey and Connecticut both hosted PHF teams last season (the Metropolitan Riveters and Connecticut Whale, respectively).
Six teams. 150 of the world’s best players.
Where will we see you? pic.twitter.com/4WhFccQ95C
— PWHL (@thepwhlofficial) August 29, 2023
Players may also spend time in even larger barns. Per The Athletic’s Michael Russo, Minnesota’s team will likely play at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. The league also expects to play some of their games at neutral sites in collaboration with the NHL, and may appear at the NHL All-Star Game and Winter Classic.
The 2023-24 regular season will consist of 24 games per team. Following seasons will run from November to May and see each team play 32 regular-season games. The league aims to have all games available to stream.
In a press conference, the PWHL also released details of their upcoming free agency period and draft. A 10-day free agency will commence on September 1, where each team can sign three players. The PWHL will then hold a 15-round draft of unsigned players on September 18 in Toronto. A lottery will determine the first round’s draft order; subsequent rounds will follow a “snake” format, reversing the order each round.
Undrafted players will become free agents and can sign with any team. For players who cannot relocate if selected in the draft, they may request a “compassionate circumstances” waiver to stay in their desired market.
Though players must declare for the draft by September 3, the league has not released a policy on whether transgender athletes can compete–a previous sticking point between the PHF and PWHPA. The PHF allowed trans athletes to compete (albeit with restrictions), while PWHPA board member Jocelyne Lamoureux has publicly argued against allowing trans women in women’s sports.
When asked by The Ice Garden’s Mike Murphy, SVP of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford said the PWHL is currently working on a policy on trans athletes alongside the league’s player’s association (the PWHLPA).
The PWHL offered further details on player contracts Tuesday, with the CBA available on their website. Players will make a minimum of $35,000 and an average $55,000 in 2023-24. Teams may sign up to 20 players before the start of training camp, out of a total roster size of 23. Six players per team will be on three-year deals worth $80,000 or more, and up to five players on a roster can be on two-year deals.
Multiple NHL teams are celebrating the arrival of the new league, with the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, and Montreal Canadiens all taking to social media to welcome new teams to their area. NHL PR released a further statement Tuesday afternoon.
“The National Hockey League congratulates the Professional Women’s Hockey League on today’s announcements,” they wrote. “We remain committed to supporting the women’s game and look forward to working together with the PWHL to grow our sport”
Headline photo courtesy of the PWHL
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