PHF announces expansion to Montréal for 2022-23 season

July 13, 2022
Sports BizHockey

The GIST: The PHF (formerly NWHL) is expanding. Yesterday, the hockey league announced the launch of a franchise in Montréal for the upcoming 2022–23 season. The move tops the PHF at seven teams for next season, and marks an ambitious step in the tug-of-war for women’s hockey superiority in North America.

The details: The new team’s leadership is already set. The franchise is owned by BTM Partners (BTM), a group that includes PHF chairman John Boynton and his wife, Johanna. Sports commentator Kevin Raphael and his business partner Emmanuel Anderson will serve the squad as president and VP, respectively.

  • As for a venue, the team has secured Centre 21.02, a high-performance hockey center, as its training facility.
  • BTM currently owns two other PHF teams — the Boston Pride and the Metropolitan Riveters — and previously owned the Toronto Six, whose new ownership group includes Canadian hockey icons.

Zooming out: The expansion means the PHF isn’t backing down despite the PWHPA’s plans to launch a new league in January, but questions about the PHF’s sustainability persist.

  • With BTM owning multiple teams, nearly half the league’s eggs are in one basket, suggesting limited demand from outside parties — especially in markets the PWHPA may be eyeing.
  • The PHF isn’t the first fledgling league with ownership groups controlling multiple teams — MLS was similarly structured in its early years. The league intentionally phased out that model as it grew, reflecting most other pro U.S. leagues.
  • The BTM basket is also a risky one. John Boynton is the chairman of Russian tech giant Yandex, which took a financial hit after Russia invaded Ukraine in February — and caused the PWHPA to back out of league-unifying talks.
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