The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), a new ice hockey competition for North America, has named its six markets in Canada and the United States as it prepares to debut next year.
Although venue plans were not confirmed at yesterday’s (Tuesday’s) announcement, it was detailed that when the puck drops in January 2024, the world’s best women’s players will compete in Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, as well as Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the New York City area.
The markets have been chosen as historic homes for the National Hockey League (NHL), along with the women’s game in general. The PWHL is aiming to establish a solid foothold following failed efforts to develop similar leagues in the past, with its ownership group buying out the Professional Hockey Federation (PHF) last month.
The PWHL is supported financially by business and philanthropic leaders Mark and Kimbra Walter and is led by a board of directors that includes sports icon Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Los Angeles Dodgers president Stan Kasten, and Dodgers senior vice-president of business strategy, Royce Cohen.
Kasten said: “On behalf of ownership and our board, I am honoured to announce the official name of our new league and to unveil the blueprint for this historic inaugural season. And we are especially proud to be providing this new platform for elite women athletes.
“Our great game has the power to captivate and connect sports fans everywhere, and we are thrilled to plant roots in six of North America’s most passionate hockey markets.”
The 2023-24 PWHL schedule will feature 24 regular season games per team, with the full schedule to be detailed in the coming months. Jayna Hefford, PWHL senior vice-president of hockey operations, added: “We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights.”
Kasten stressed that his boss, and primary investor in the PWHL, Dodgers co-owner Walter, is committed long-term to the project. Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, Kasten said: “We didn’t do this for the short term, and we didn’t do it for the long term. We did it for it to be permanent. We have plans.
“We understand this is going to be expensive, particularly in the early years. But we’re prepared for that and we think of this money not as being expenses or losses. We think of it as investment in what we are building.”
The PWHL is said to be in talks to take part in major NHL events such as the Winter Classic and other outdoor games, along with its All-Star Weekend. Commenting on the official launch of the league, the NHL said: “We remain committed to supporting the women’s game and look forward to working together with the PWHL to grow our sport.”