PWHPA: Girls just want to have a league
The GIST: Fresh off Wednesday’s dominant 5–0 Rivalry Series comeback victory over the Americans, Team Canada’s best teamed up with their biggest rivals to create an official PWHPA league, with reports that players organized a formal union and are negotiating a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). One step closer.
The background: The PHF (formerly NWHL) has served as a professional women’s hockey destination since its founding in 2015, but the PHF and PWHPA have had an icy relationship since North America’s top athletes opted out of joining the established league, insteading forming the PWHPA in May 2019.
- The PWHPA has long advocated for a sustainable cross-border pro league that would allow players to be full-time athletes — something the PHF’s pay structure doesn’t guarantee.
Why it matters: The organization of a formal union and CBA hints that an official pro PWHPA league could be coming in the near future. Last May, rumors circulated that the PWHPA could launch a league as soon as January 2023, but that timeline was later pushed back.
- However, the question remains: Where does the PHF fit in? One potential model could mimic the NHL and AHL, where the PHF serves as a feeder league to the PWHPA. Grow that game.
What’s next: While we once again await a formal announcement, PWHPA players will take to the ice for a showcase in Tampa Bay, Florida this weekend before the puck drops for their championship in March. All of the hockey, please.