The PWHPA acquires the PHF to form a joint North American league
The GIST: Omg, it’s happening. News broke yesterday that the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises, already a formal partner of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), have acquired the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF).
- This officially clears the way for the PWHPA and PHF to form a joint North American league. Finally.
The background: The icy rift between both sides dates back to 2019. After the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) folded, North America’s best players (including Marie-Philip Poulin, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and Hilary Knight) opted not to join the then–NWHL, now PHF, citing a desire to play in a sustainable cross-border league.
- Those players went on to create the PWHPA to do just that, mostly playing in showcase tournaments across the continent to promote the game and their mission.
- Over the last 12 months, there’s been rumors that the PWHPA would create their own league, and there’s been attempts at a “truce” with the PHF, with nothing coming to fruition…until yesterday.
What’s next: PWHPA players will vote to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in the coming days that will set up the foundational pay structure for the new league.
- Notably, due to the acquisition, it’s reported that PHF athletes will need to renegotiate their contracts. With the future league and roster size still TBD, some current PHF players may not find a place on future rosters due to the insurgence of PWHPA talent.
Zooming out: This move ends a decades-long division in North American pro women’s hockey. WTA founder Billie Jean King knows a thing or two about creating prosperous women’s sports entities, and the creation of a joint league should lead to the best on-ice product, increased fandom, and long-term commercial success. Talk about reaching for the top shelf.