The New Skilled Girls’s Hockey League to Launch in 6 Cities

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By Stacy Connor

With a long-running feud in ladies’s skilled ice hockey now settled, a brand new league with lots of the world’s greatest gamers is able to push ahead in January, and its inaugural residence cities and different particulars had been introduced on Tuesday.

The six groups within the new Skilled Girls’s Hockey League shall be evenly divided between america and Canada, with groups in Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, the New York metropolitan space, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto. The staff nicknames and arenas are to be decided.

“The journey to get us right here has been lengthy and twisted,” stated Jayna Hefford, a five-time Olympian for Canada who’s the brand new league’s senior vp for hockey operations.

The highest ladies’s hockey league from 2015 to 2023 was the Premier Hockey Federation, which was initially referred to as the Nationwide Girls’s Hockey League. It struggled to succeed in the extent of success of different prime males’s and girls’s skilled leagues in North America. Small salaries meant that gamers usually needed to work second jobs, and tv protection was not distinguished.

Dissatisfied with the league’s progress, members of the gamers’ union, the Skilled Girls’s Hockey Gamers’ Affiliation, boycotted the league starting with the 2019-20 season. The a whole lot of gamers who participated within the strike included nearly the entire prime names from the American and Canadian Olympic groups. That left the ladies’s league with second-tier gamers and few of the names followers may need acknowledged.

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The gamers’ union appeared into forming its personal league, and groups it assembled performed barnstorming video games across the two nations in competitors with the P.H.F.

The P.H.F. made strides, growing its wage cap to $750,000 per staff in its closing season and luring a couple of gamers again. However a overwhelming majority of them by no means rejoined it.

In June, the union and the P.H.F. agreed to a deal that may see them merge, with the intention of beginning a brand new league, owned by the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises. Gamers have ratified a collective bargaining settlement going ahead, and all P.H.F. contracts have been voided.

Every staff within the new league can signal three gamers as free brokers earlier than a 15-round draft on Sept. 18. Ultimate rosters may have 23 lively gamers. The league says that six gamers on every staff shall be signed to three-year contracts of a minimum of $80,000 a yr, whereas most different gamers shall be on one- or two-year offers.

For the primary season, every staff will play 24 regular-season video games beginning in January 2024. The league says that subsequent seasons will start in November and can embrace 32 video games. Growth can also be attainable going ahead, it stated.

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In its closing season, the P.H.F. had groups in Boston; Buffalo; Simsbury, Conn.; East Rutherford, N.J.; Richfield, Minn.; Montreal; and Toronto. With the beginning of the brand new league, Buffalo and Connecticut are dropping their groups, whereas Ottawa is gaining one.

N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that his league was reluctant to get entangled with ladies’s hockey so long as the break up continued. Stan Kasten, the president and chief government of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who’s on the brand new league’s board of administrators, stated the N.H.L. has supplied recommendation.

“The N.H.L. has been fantastically supportive of us,” he stated.

The N.H.L. will collaborate with the brand new league to prepare neutral-site video games in each N.H.L. and non-N.H.L. cities past the six residence websites.

“No fan owes us their time or cash,” Kasten stated. “It’s on us to earn it.”

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