PWHPA prepares to launch new league structure

Just days after finally declaring the Association of Professional Women’s Hockey Players to remain independent, details of the group’s new league are beginning to leak.

Recently, the PWHPA announced that it would not proceed with a collaborative effort with the Premier Hockey Federation. The announcement came after the PWHPA, PHF and NHL met last month.

Although nothing more was said at the time regarding the leadership of the PWHPA, Sportsnet‘s Jeff Marek is now reporting that the PWHPA intends to begin league play in January 2023.

Marek also reported that the league, which will have a unique new name of PWHPA, will offer a minimum salary of $35,000 and an average salary of $55,000.

As the PWHPA was founded as a players’ association to represent the interests of athletes, when an official league begins, a new name will provide a single entity for the organization.

The league would include six teams in the United States and Canada, each consisting of 23 players, playing a 32-game regular season between January and April.

A sticking point in discussions between the PWHPA and PHF continued to be the PWHPA’s demand for a tangible plan for sustainable and professional salaries. While the PHF announced this year that teams would now have a salary cap of $750,000, no salary floor was announced and no league minimum wage was established. This means that many league players could still receive salaries unable to support athletes in competition as professionals without requiring other employment.

As reported by AthleticismAnother reason the PWHPA chose not to sue with the PHF, according to Hailey Salvian, is President John Boynton’s ties to Russia. Boynton has been a major backer of PHF and several league franchises, but sits as chairman of Russian tech company Yandex. Boynton’s ownership in the PHF includes the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters, and until recently the Toronto Six, including a 50% stake in the league’s teams. The PHF also announced plans to expand by two teams this offseason, although no official announcement has been made.

The PWHPA will almost certainly have roots along the East Coast, which could mean direct market competition in US and Canadian cities by the two leagues.

Ida M. Morgan