The National Women's Hockey League plans a launch this fall, and unlike the current professional women's hockey league in existence -- the Canadian Women's Hockey League -- the NWHL plans on paying its players. Th
Looks like NWHL (National Womens Hockey League) will launch with 4 teams — NY, Boston, Connecticut, Buffalo. Logos! pic.twitter.com/SClKeUhkJG— Travis Hughes (@TravisSBN) March 26, 2015
Hopefully this league can co-exist with the CWHL, which has teams in Boston, Montreal, Calgary, Toronto and Brampton, Ont. It's obviously much easier from a geography perspective than the CWHL.
We'll see what this means for the Blades, Boston's CWHL entry and the most recent Clarkson Cup champion in that league, since two teams in one city seems difficult to pull off. The Blades also had some difficulty -- travel and otherwise -- being the only American team in a league with all Canadian teams.
Here's more info from the league itself, via Mike Burse:
"The National Women's Hockey League is the first paid professional women's hockey league in North America. The founding four teams are the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, New York Riveters, playing out of Long Island, and the Connecticut Whale, playing out of Stamford, CT. We will boast the best of the best in women's hockey for 18 games, once a week, from October to February, with two rounds of playoffs to finish the season. We are launching the league on April 13 and our games start in October. Players will be paid and have a say in the rules of the league. We have had interest from many of the greatest players, including several Olympians, both American and Canadian. We have no connection to the CWHL."
And here's more on how players will be selected, via the league:
Only Junior and Senior [college] players will be eligible to register for the 2015 NWHL Entry Draft.
All other players who have completed a college degree will be considered free agents.
Free Agency begins on March 15, 2015. Teams can offer one year contracts to free agents for reasonable salaries. Free Agency ends August 25, 2015. If a player has not signed by then, she is ineligible to play for the 2015-2016 season.
Paying players is a big deal. In fact, CWHL players wind up paying out of pocket to support their careers, so it's honestly closer to the hockey you and I pay to play down at the local rink than it is "professional." (Obviously the skill level is higher than anything you and I have ever played, of course.) We don't know exactly how the pay will work in the NWHL, but it's a big, big step for women's hockey.
Hopefully this first season goes well this year. The geography is a big leg up on the CWHL, and there's the possibility that games will be streamed live online, so the league will be accessible to anybody who wants to watch it. Who knows? Maybe in a year or two Philadelphia will have a team too.