A league of their own: PWHL marks a new start for women’s hockey

by | Feb 26, 2024 | Opinion

In January of 2024, the fate of women’s hockey changed forever. The first Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) game occurred in Toronto on January 1, 2024 when Toronto took on New York. After many uncertain years of professional women’s hockey there was finally one league in which the best female hockey players from around the world could play. 

From 1998 to 2023, professional women’s hockey was rocky. Many players were forced to work other jobs and travel from league to league just to play the game they love. There has been a large gap in pay equality for women’s athletes for many years, and hockey is no different. For a long time, many players wanted one league where the best female hockey players could come together and play competitive games while also making a living wage. 

Finally, in July 2023, the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) and PHWPA (Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association) merged to create one league called the PWHL. According to an article by the CBC, the players’ goal was to create a league that pays a living wage and offers high competitiveness

For this league to make it, they needed support. Support from sponsors, the media, and, of course, the fans. When the announcement came out about the PWHL right away there was an outcry of support. Sponsors stepped in, like Air Canada, Canadian Tire and SportChek. and finally, the players were given a living wage. The collective bargaining agreement stated that the minimum salary would be $35,000, while the team’s average base salary should be $55,000. Plus, each team is required to pay six players at least $80,000 annually and sign them to three-year contracts. 

This league is just getting started. So far, the PWHL has had a lot of coverage in the media and on TV, which is a significant improvement. The PWHL website states that all regular season games are broadcasted on CBC, TSN and Sportsnet, which is huge. Since the debut a month ago, the coverage has increased and they have broken several attendance records already.  I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. The league would start their season with six teams, Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa in Canada: Boston, New York and Minnesota in the United States. On January 1 2024, the league had its first game in Toronto between Toronto and New York, with New York winning the game 4-0. This game was a huge moment for women’s hockey, not only for the women playing in the league now but for the next generation of female hockey players. 

Many hockey fans are excited about this league and keen to watch these incredible hockey players. As a female hockey player, I am very happy and proud that there is a league and that people are giving the players and the league the attention it deserves. I already know that I am definitely going to see a game in person if I ever take a trip out east, or if the league expands to Edmonton. For that to happen,the promotion of the league has to continue. The league has to continue to keep people interested, or people will stop watching, and the league needs lots of people watching and attending games to keep it running.  I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for this league and women’s hockey. The PWHL is just the beginning. 

Cover photo via Twitter, @thepwhlofficial

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