Womens hockey is seeing another addition in the form of the re-incarnated National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). The NWHL will begin playing in October 2015, with four teams being located in Buffalo, NY, Boston, MA, Long Island, NY, and Stamford, CT.
The NWHL office released the following statement regarding this addition:
“The National Women’s Hockey League is the first paid professional women’s hockey league in North America. The founding four teams are the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, New York Riveters, playing out of Long Island, and the Connecticut Whale, playing out of Stamford, CT. We will boast the best of the best in women’s hockey for 18 games, once a week, from October to February, with two rounds of playoffs to finish the season. We are launching the league on April 13 and our games start in October. Players will be paid and have a say in the rules of the league. We have had interest from many of the greatest players, including several Olympians, both American and Canadian. We have no connection to the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL).”
The NWHL will be composed of post-collegiate players, as only junior and senior college players will be eligible for the Entry Draft. Players who already graduated will be free agents; free agency began March 15 and will end Aug. 25th. All players drafted this year will have to finish their collegiate careers before playing in the NWHL. Mike Burse of Outlook Hockey reasoned that “it appears that teams will fill out their roster with paid… free agents for the coming October 2015 NWHL season. Then the first round of drafted players will enter the league in October 2016.”
The CWHL is the pre-existing women’s professional hockey league from 2007, operating mostly in Canada with the lone American team being the Boston Blades. The difference between the Candian and National leagues is that the CWHL doesn’t pay players, so they need a fulltime job and have to purchase their own equipment. Each NWHL team has a $270,000 salary cap. While it will be a paying job, it’s certainly nowhere close to being living wages for each player yet.
There will only be 18 games for each team- nine home and nine away- so working a schedule out for when you want to go see a team will be require a bit more luck. However, co-founder Dani Rylan is working to get live-streaming of the games on major providers and even partnering with the NHL.
Rylan and retired USA Hockey legend Angela Ruggiero founded the NWHL after Rylan’s attempts to bring a CWHL team to New York failed. Rylan will be the commissioner of the NWHL come October. Along with seeking sponsorships for the NWHL, there is also the NWHL Foundation, which “is a charitable and educational nonprofit corporation that provides long-range financial support for the NWHL and promotes the growth of women’s hockey.”
“The Foundation’s primary goals are to enhance the NWHL’s mission and activities, and to provide funding for education, training, and opportunities to increase women’s participation throughout the country. The Foundation will leverage the sport of hockey to advance the lives of women and teach the core values of hockey: loyalty, sportsmanship, commitment, perseverance and teamwork,” according to the NWHL website nwhl.co.
All donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible and will help girls throughout the country to dream of a better future for women’s hockey, as well as help spread women’s hockey throughout the country.