Women’s professional hockey players have advocated loudly for one unified league, and after at least four years, it is finally happening.
“I am extremely proud of our PWHPA [Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association] group, which has remained committed to our vision and steadfast in our efforts to change the landscape of women’s professional hockey forever,” said Coyne Schofield. “Over the past four years, we have worked tirelessly to close the gap on what young girls and boys could dream to become in this sport.”
This initiative, led by business and philanthropic leaders Mark and Kimbra Walter, and sports icon Billie Jean King with the support of Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) and Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), will see the launch of a new professional hockey league featuring the world’s best women’s players.
“I have always believed that professional sports should bring the highest levels of performance and organization, and this new league will have the backing and resources it needs to represent the very best of women’s hockey,” said Mark Walter, who is the controlling owner of the Dodgers and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s (WNBA) Los Angeles Sparks, co-general partner of the ownership group of the Premier League’s Chelsea Football Club and holder of a significant interest in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Los Angeles Lakers.
“This is another step forward for the women who play professional hockey and the girls who dream of it every day,” Johanna Boynton said. “The PHF has been a game-changer and catalyst for growth in the women’s professional game. Today’s announcement builds on this foundation, represents a shared vision for one new league, and reaffirms our belief that collective and collaborative leadership is in the best interest of women’s professional hockey.”
Teams from Montreal, London, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington are all under consideration to form the unnamed league that is set to launch in January of 2024.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to advance women’s sports,” said King. “I have no doubt that this league can capture the imagination of fans and a new generation of players. I want to thank Mark and Kimbra Walter for their vision and commitment to investing in women’s sports.”
The league will be supported financially by the Walters and led by board members including King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, and Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten.
“I celebrate this transformational moment for women’s professional hockey,” said Kasten, who represented the Walters in both transactions. “I thank Jayna Hefford, Kendall Coyne Schofield and the PWHPA player bargaining committee, Johanna and John Boynton and their partners at the PHF, and PHF Commissioner Reagan Carey for their essential roles in this historic accomplishment.”
The new league has acquired assets of the PHF and has spent months negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with the PWHPA. These actions will enable the new league to move forward in unprecedented ways. The new league will undertake a thorough and equitable process to ensure that it features the best women’s hockey players in the world.
“This effort is the most significant development in our game since women’s ice hockey became an Olympic sport 25 years ago,” said Carey. “Players, fans, past pioneers, and future generations deserve to see the best athletes come together to elevate professional women’s hockey as never before.”
“This new league will be unlike anything we have seen in women’s hockey,” said Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and PWHPA lead, Jayna Hefford. “I am inspired by this generation of players who are redefining the sport. We will create dreams and opportunities for girls and women around the world for decades to come.”