By: Jake Solomons | Follow me on Twitter! @jake_solomons
The Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) announced Tuesday morning a commitment from the Board of Governors to invest over $25 million in direct payments and benefits to its players over the next three years. The pledge includes more than $7.5 million in salary and benefits for the 2022-23 season. This deal represents the largest one-time independent investment in professional women’s hockey history and will provide more financial opportunities for athletes while directly enhancing the player experience.
“The PHF has been steadfast in its vision to grow the game under a new era that truly provides leading opportunities for athletes in the sport who deserve to be treated as professionals. This amazing investment by ownership reaffirms the strength of their commitment to being difference-makers who advance the professional game so that our athletes can thrive as role models who continue to inspire the next generation.”Tyler Tumminia, PHF Commissioner
The $25 million investment makes my heart happy. As a women’s hockey fan, it tells me that these players are being recognized for their talent, passion, and dedication. Playing hockey can be a very realistic career path, not just a part-time gig after their regular day jobs. Pay women, support women, invest in women!
Making a commitment as monumental as this makes people wonder where those funds are going? For the professional players, the investment includes cash, full healthcare benefits provided by their club, and equity in the teams, and support the current athletes and attract new players. At the heart of the investment is a substantial salary cap increase to $750,000 for next year, 150 percent more than the current record figure of $300,000 that is available per team. Doubling the cap space for next year…these players are gonna get PAID, and they absolutely deserve every cent.
Many growth and the development opportunities for its athletes will be seen through expansion, updating facilities, purchasing new equipment, and increasing ice time in the form of more practices and an expanded 28 game schedule. All players will benefit from 10 percent of the equity of each team, which will be contributed to an investment pool owned by the PHF players, enabling them to share in the league’s financial success. Additionally, players will have control over their own likeness and profit from their image.
“On behalf of the Board of Governors we are proud to play a part in bringing women’s sports to the next level by investing in the PHF. We see the PHF as a platform to address the inequities that women athletes face. We also believe in the sustainability of our developing business model and embrace our responsibility to build a platform that grows this dynamic league to historic heights.”John Boynton, Chairman, Board of Governors
Making Progress Never Ends
Within the past 18 months, the PHF has evolved from a single entity to a joint venture model. Which means, all six teams are owned and operated by private ownership groups in their respective markets. The PHF also generated landmark broadcast and corporate partnerships, the largest sponsorship revenues in its history. Before the 2021-22 season, the name National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) was replaced with the current title PHF to redefine the brand based on the skill and talent of the athletes as opposed to their gender.
This season, the PHF has established unprecedented media exposure through an agreement with ESPN+ who serves as the exclusive home of the PHF in the United States, with international rights for ESPN affiliates, including TSN in Canada. The Federation also recently announced a trailblazing multi-year agreement with The Upper Deck Company to produce their first-ever professional women’s hockey trading cards. In addition, they announced a new multi-year agreement with Warrior, who became the first PHF-wide partner in the equipment category. I don’t collect trading cards, but I guess now is as good a time as any to start! I wonder how much I can get for a Jillian Dempsey rookie card?
The PHF saved a considerable detail for the end of their press release, which hinted heavily at the expansion of a seventh PHF team in Montreal, Quebec. Now, we don’t have all the details just yet, but the investment made by the Board of Governors presents the opportunity for expansion, as mentioned earlier, for more teams. For the players of the PHF, opening the door of opportunity is not enough. They will surely kick the entire door off its hinges to show everyone that this investment was the step in the right direction of growth and success. Having a team in Montreal is the right move for two reasons. First, the PHF only has one team based in Canada currently. Second, the city of Montreal is saturated in hockey history to where this choice was just too easy to make.
Details for the PHF’s planned expansion of a seventh team in Montreal, Quebec, and the potential to add another team in the United States will be announced at a later date.