The Premier Hockey Federation will distribute $25 million in direct payment and benefits to its players over the next three seasons, a result of the single largest investment in the history of professional women’s hockey.
The board of governors for the PHF committed the $25 million investment over the next three years, the league announced on Tuesday.
PHF more than doubles salary cap for next season
That commitment begins in the 2022-23 season. The league will add more than $7.5 million in benefits and salaries for players during the upcoming year.
As a result, the PHF salary cap will increase from $300,000 to $750,000 for the next season. The $300,000 mark for the previous campaign stood as the previous record for the league. In addition, the league will add two expansion teams for its next season, which will increase the number of PHF teams to eight. One expansion team will play in Montreal, with the other franchise located somewhere in the United States.
Players will earn full health care benefits and gain a 10% equity in their respective teams. The investment will also increase the number of practices for teams and improve franchise facilities.
“It’s an amazing investment by the ownership, and it really reaffirms the strength of their commitment to being a difference maker in women’s hockey,” PHF commissioner Ty Tumminia said to The Associated Press. “It’s important for us to advance to our next season and be crystal clear about the direction we’re headed, and what [our] framework will be so that all athletes can make an informed decision about their careers.”
This investment comes just before the Beijing Olympics, a critical time for the league. The Winter Olympics provide the biggest boost in awareness for women’s hockey, and the PHF will try to capitalize on that interest following the tournament.
Investment could lure elite players to league
In addition, the increased funding could help the league attract more elite talent. Salaries and benefits have kept some top players, particularly from the Canadian and American national teams, out of the PHF. Some joined the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, but that venture folded in May 2019.
The top players in women’s hockey created the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association to fight for better working conditions for elite athletes. Tumminia told the AP that she believes the increased salaries and health care benefits should give the PWHPA exactly what it wants.
“We can’t speak for them, but our position has always been that a single professional women’s hockey league in North America provides the best opportunities for growth and sustainability of the game,” Tumminia said. “This investment supports everything we all want to see, and that’s enhance opportunities for athletes and take the sport to the next level.”
The former National Women’s Hockey League rebranded to the Premier Hockey Federation in September 2021, restructuring in order to prioritize private ownership of teams. The current 2021-22 season began in November 2021. The Toronto Six currently lead the league with a 7-1-1 record and 22 points.