Published August 29, 2023

New women's pro hockey league coming to Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa

Women's hockey league - CP

By Donna Spencer

The Professional Women's Hockey League will open its inaugural season in January with teams in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and the New York City area.

The league's name, team locations and player intake process were announced Tuesday.

Free agency starts Friday with the majority of the PWHL's founding players to be selected in a 15-round draft Sept. 18 in Toronto.

Training camps open Nov. 13.

Los Angeles Dodgers majority owner Mark Walter is the league's financial backer. Longtime NHL executive Brian Burke is the league's executive director.

Walter bought out the seven-team rival Premier Hockey Federation and his group negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association this summer to clear the deck for a new women's pro league.

The PWHL's board of directors includes tennis icon Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Dodgers president Stan Kasten and Dodgers senior vice-president of business strategy Royce Cohen. 

Hockey Hall of Famer Jayna Hefford is the league's senior vice-president of hockey operations.

Each of the six teams will play 24 regular-season games in the PWHL's first season. The schedule has yet to be released.

Teams will play 32 regular-season games in the future and seasons will start in November, Kasten said Tuesday.

The PWHL is hiring six general managers who will be responsible for building team rosters through free agency and the draft.

Each team can sign three players to standard player agreements during the Sept. 1-10 free agency period. 

Current or graduating players from NCAA or U Sports are not eligible for the free agency period.

Players must declare for the draft by Sunday. Players with remaining collegiate eligibility are permitted to declare for the draft in consultation with their campus compliance officers.

The selection order for the draft's first round will be determined by lottery with teams selecting in subsequent rounds in reverse order of the previous rounds.

No draft picks will be traded until at least the completion of the 2023-24 season.

Undrafted players become free agents and can sign with a team after the draft. 

Selected players going unsigned for two years are eligible to be drafted again, but no player can sign for more than two drafts.

Each team is limited to 20 standard player agreements before November's training camp. 

Six players on each team will be signed to three-year contracts of a minimum US$80,000 per year.

Up to five players on each team can be signed to two-year contracts in 2023-24. A player becomes a free agent at the termination or conclusion of her contract.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2023.

Banner image via The Canadian Press

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