The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Assn. has been established, with an aim of advocating for the creation, promotion and support of “a single, viable women’s professional league in North America.”
The Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr said in a news release Monday that articles of incorporation to establish the association had been filed last Friday. More than 200 female hockey players announced a few weeks ago they would decline to play in any professional leagues in North America this season in a coordinated effort to build a new league that will give them better working conditions and higher pay than they’ve received.
The National Women’s Hockey League became the only surviving women’s professional hockey league in North America when the Canadian Women’s Hockey League unexpectedly folded at the end of March. The NWHL has five teams and plans to add two more next season.
The statement said the PWHPA will “help players coordinate training needs and opportunities and develop support from sponsors.” It said its membership will include elite players who have won Olympic medals and world championships as well as those who haven’t played on a national team. It plans to draw members from the U.S., Canada and Europe.
“We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this beautiful game, and it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of players have more opportunities than we had,” Kendall Coyne Schofield, a member of the gold-medal-winning U.S. team at the Pyeongchang Olympics, said in the statement. “It’s time to stand together and work to create a viable league that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of our hard work.”
The statement said PWHPA members are seeking “a professional league that will provide financial and infrastructure resources to players; protect and support their rights and talents; provide health insurance; and work with companies, business leaders, and sports professionals worldwide who already have voiced support for women’s hockey.” NWHL players earned as little as $2,000 last season and did not get health insurance from their employers.
The NHL has provided modest financial contibutions to the CWHL and the NWHL but has not financially supported them as the NBA has supported the WNBA. NHL officials have said they didn’t want to intervene in the operation of another league. The NHL’s New Jersey Devils recently dissolved their partnership with the Metropolitan Riveters, and Buffalo Sabres co-owner Kim Pegula returned control of the Buffalo Beauts to the NWHL.