The GIST: Last week, we hinted that the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) might be expanding to Toronto. And yesterday, the league confirmed their plans. It’s like we have ESPN or something.
No way! Give me the deets: Almost a year after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) folded, professional women’s hockey is set to return to Canada. The Toronto-based team will become the NWHL’s sixth franchise and the first outside of the US.
- The ownership group will be led by former Harvard captain Johanna Boynton, with former Brown coach Margaret “Digit” Murphy as its president. Fancy, fancy. Five players have also already been named to the squad.
Cool. So this is good news?: Anytime women’s sports grows, it’s great news! However, this situation is complicated. Last year, after the CWHL folded, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) was formed.
- The PWHPA is made up of over 200 of the world’s top hockey players who have banded together and agreed that they would not play pro hockey in North America until a single, viable, cross-border league was formed.
The NWHL is cross-border, so problem solved, right?: Not really. The PWHPA remains firm that the NWHL is not the solution they’re looking for. The PWHPA has made it pretty clear that they want support from the NHL (similar to the NBA and the WNBA), but the NHL has said it will be difficult for them to fully step in while the NWHL is still around.
- So yes, while this expansion is a step forward, it’s also another roadblock in creating the pro league women’s hockey truly needs and deserves.