PWHL announces team locations, free agent and draft process
The Professional Women's Hockey League has arrived.
The newly formed PWHL officially unveiled its name along with key details regarding the inaugural six teams and the player selection process in a video conference call on Tuesday.
Six teams based in Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, New York, Ottawa, and Toronto will comprise the first PWHL campaign. Arenas and team names were not announced.
A free agent period begins Sept. 1, where each team can sign up to three players before Sept. 10. A 15-round draft will take place Sept. 18 in Toronto, after which point undrafted players can sign as free agents or try out for teams.
Training camps commence the week of Nov. 15 ahead of a regular-season start in Jan. 2024. The PWHL will have a 24-game schedule for the inaugural campaign before moving to a November start and a 32-game schedule in subsequent seasons.
"Our great game has the power to captivate and connect sports fans everywhere, and we are thrilled to plant roots in six of North America's most passionate hockey markets," Los Angeles Dodgers president and PWHL board of directors member Stan Kasten said in a statement.
"We have never seen more excitement and demand for women's sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women's players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights," PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations and Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford said in a statement.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told The Athletic's Michael Russo the league intends to support the PWHL.
"Certainly we've already had intensive conversations on how we can be helpful and supportive to that league as early as their inaugural season, which they expect to be January of next calendar year," Daly said. "That's a work in progress, but yes, we intend to be as helpful and supportive of that league as possible."
Kasten noted the possibility of collaboration with the NHL for neutral site games.
Brian Burke was officially introduced as the PWHL Player Association's executive director. Most recently the Pittsburgh Penguins' president, Burke was an advisor for the defunct Canadian Women's Hockey League. He described the PWHL's announcement as "the most exciting day in the history of women's hockey" during his introduction on the league's conference call.
The Mark Walter Group purchased the Premier Hockey Federation in June to unify the North American women's hockey landscape with the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association.
Boston, Minnesota, Montreal, and Toronto each had active teams operating in the PHF last season. The Metropolitan Riveters were based in New Jersey and previously played out of Brooklyn from 2015-17. Ottawa had a CWHL team from 2007-10.
Buffalo and Connecticut - two original PHF cities dating back to 2015 - didn't receive a franchise.
"We didn't do this for the short term, we didn't do this for the long term. We did this to be permanent," Kasten said on the conference call.