The PWHL is ushering in a new era for women's hockey, characterized by significant advancements in player partnerships, investment and operational structure. Jayne Hefford, a Hockey Hall of Famer, is at the forefront of this transformation as the senior vice president of hockey operations. Her experience across four different professional leagues lends credibility to her belief that the PWHL will be a major departure from previous leagues: “This is completely different than anything we’ve done before.”
“This has been a long journey, and it’s all been an important part of the journey,” Hefford said, via Jim Cerny of Sportsnaut. “As a player, I’ve played in four different versions of what we consider professional leagues. But if you put all of them together, none of them would equal the investment that’s been made in this league in the first few months.”
One of the most notable changes in the PWHL is the eight-year collective bargaining agreement, which sets new benchmarks in terms of player compensation, including better pay, housing stipends and bonuses. Additionally, the league has implemented more uniform standards for equipment and training facilities, enhancing the professional experience for players.
PWHL's unique operational model
The league's operational model is another area where it breaks new ground. Owned by the Mark Walter Group, the PWHL operates under a single ownership structure for its six teams – Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa and Toronto. This means that there is no league commissioner, streamlining decision-making and fostering a sense of unity and collaboration. Mark Walter is part owner and chairman of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“We are one company, a single entity. All of our clubs will compete like mad on the ice, but off the ice we are working together,” said Stan Kasten, PWHL board advisory member, and Dodgers president and part owner. “It’s damn unusual, and that’s a good thing.”
The advisory board also features figures such as Billie Jean King, Ilana Kloss and Royce Cohen, underscoring the league's commitment to excellence and future growth.
“We really are all working together. We all saw the same need and we’re all here filling that need. I think it’s fantastic,” Stan Kasten said.
The PWHL has successfully attracted top talent from around the world, a clear indication of its appeal and the confidence players have in its vision. While official team names and schedules have yet to be released, puck drop for the league is set for January 2024. The league recently unveiled its logo and temporary jerseys for the upcoming season.