Women’s hockey league to raise salary cap, add 2 teams

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The Premier Hockey Federation is doubling each team’s salary cap to $750,000 and adding two expansion franchises next season to capitalize on the surge of attention women’s hockey traditionally enjoys after the Winter Olympics.

The Premier Hockey Federation is doubling each team’s salary cap to $750,000 and adding two expansion franchises next season to capitalize on the surge of attention women’s hockey traditionally enjoys after the Winter Olympics.

The PHF’s announcement on Tuesday that its Board of Governors has committed to investing more than $25 million over the next three years is also seen as an important step in trying to improve its relationship with players in the US and Canada national team that have refused to join North America’s only professional women’s hockey league.

“It’s an amazing investment by the owners and reaffirms the strength of their commitment to making a difference in women’s hockey,” PHF Commissioner Ty Tumminia told The Associated Press.

“It’s important for us to move forward into our next season and be crystal clear about the direction we’re going and the framework that will be in place so that all athletes can make an informed decision about their careers,” Tumminia added, citing the timing The announcement comes two weeks before the opening of the Beijing Winter Games.

The six-team PHF is moving forward with plans to create a team in Montreal and, without revealing where, add another expansion franchise in the United States.

The $300,000 cap increase this season will result in an average salary of $37,500 based on a 20-player minimum roster or $30,000 for a 25-player league maximum roster. A player’s salary will not be capped as long as the team’s total salary stays below the cap.

The inflow of funds will also result in the PHF providing comprehensive healthcare services to its players, improving facilities and increasing the number of practices. Players also get a 10% share of their respective team and control their likeness for marketing opportunities.

“This is the time to double down,” PHF Governor Chairman John Boynton said. “We believe this is a huge step forward in enabling the best women hockey players to make a living playing the game they love.”

The league has already doubled its salary cap from $150,000 a year ago while also adding an expansion team in Toronto.

The PHF has undertaken numerous sponsorship and broadcast activities over the past year, including broadcasting games on ESPN-Plus in the US and on TSN in Canada.

Tumminia noted that since this was an Olympic year, the league was able to make these arrangements.

“This is a very pivotal time in women’s hockey. There’s no denying the impact the Olympics is having on interest in women’s football and how the landscape can change after Beijing,” she said.

The PHF currently has teams in Boston, Toronto, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, St. Paul, Minnesota, Danbury, Connecticut and Buffalo, New York.

The accelerated approach follows two years in which the PHF revised its business and ownership model and underwent a rebrand, changing its name from the National Women’s Hockey League last summer.

PHF teams are now privately owned, although some ownership groups control more than one franchise.

Founded as a four-team start-up in 2015 by Dani Rylan Kearny, the league previously controlled all of its franchises and relied on outside investors to fill the revenue gap from ticketing and merchandise sales to fund salaries, travel and administrative costs to pay costs.

The instability of the business model caused the NWHL to cut player salaries by more than half in their second season. The move raised suspicions among players, some of whom transferred to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, which closed in May 2019.

The demise of the CWHL led the world’s top players to form the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association to create a single North American professional league – ideally backed by the NHL – with a long-term sustainable economic model.

The PWHPA has spent the last two years hosting a series of weekend barnstorming events called the “Dream Gap Tour” across North America.

Tumminia believes that the PHF’s recent investment and inclusion of healthcare services is in line with the PWHPA’s vision.

“We can’t speak for them, but our position has always been that a single women’s professional hockey league in North America offers the best opportunity for growth and sustainability of the game,” she said. “This investment supports everything we all want to see, and that means expanding opportunities for athletes and taking the sport to the next level.”

Boynton said the PHF’s growth was sustainable based on available resources and hinted that more was to come.

“I think we’re moving as fast as we can, and it’s never fast enough,” Boynton said. “Our top priority is to increase compensation as quickly as possible. So are we moving it up fast? Yes. Are we done pushing it up? No.”

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

John Wawrow, The Associated Press


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