Women’s hockey: Iced out
The GIST: As written in today’s sports biz newsletter, a potential alliance between the PWHPA and the PHF (formerly NWHL) is officially off the table. On Monday, the PWHPA’s executive board voted unanimously to end conversations about collaborating on a joint North American pro women’s hockey league.
The reasons: The PWHPA has concerns about the PHF’s operations and financial backing. Two of the league’s six franchises — the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters — are owned by PHF chairman John Boynton, who is also the chairman of Russian tech giant Yandex.
- Reportedly, the PWHPA doesn’t want to affiliate with Yandex, particularly after several high-profile organizations, including the NHL, Grubhub and Uber suspended ties with the company.
- Last month’s Isobel Cup playoffs also raised red flags for the PWHPA. The playoffs had free admittance and the championship game MVP received just $1K — in gift cards. Wish we were kidding.
The context: The parties have had a tense relationship for years, with North America’s top athletes opting out of the PHF since May 2019. The PWHPA has long advocated for a sustainable cross-border pro league that would allow the world’s top players to be full-time athletes — something the PHF’s pay structure doesn’t guarantee.
- Though the PHF recently landed a $25 million investment to directly benefit its players, the PWHPA has doubts about the league’s leadership.
Zooming out: The situation begs the question — who should make the next move to properly establish a North American pro women’s hockey league? Arguably, the NHL.
- The NHL had requested the PWHPA and PHF meet to resolve differences and discuss potentially joining forces. Given that a handful of NHL franchises recently partnered with the PWHPA, it’s assumed the NHL will now need to decide if it wants to work solely with the PWHPA. Stay tuned.