NWHL keeps door open to try to unfreeze relationship with PWHPA
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National Women’s Hockey League commissioner Tyler Tumminia is keeping the door open if members of the Professional Women Hockey Association ever want to reach out.
By JOHN WAWROWAP Hockey Writer
Tyler Tumminia is leaving the door open if members of the Professional Women Hockey Association are ever to reach out to the National Women’s Hockey League in an effort to unfreeze what has been a cold relationship.
The NWHL freshman commissioner said she was ready to listen and didn’t believe the two sides’ goals in growing the sport are so different.
“I don’t think the door has ever been closed here,” Tumminia told The Associated Press this week when announcing the NWHL’s decision to double its salary cap to $ 300,000 for each of its six teams entering their seventh. season.
“I’m always going to think about the future, and the salary cap increases and the appropriation and injection of cash needed to show growth and progress,” she added. “It all goes in the same direction that the PWHPA is also looking for.”
The PWHPA was formed two years ago in large part because the majority of North America’s top female players were reluctant to join the US-based NWHL after the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.
Skeptical of the NWHL’s business model, especially after the league slashed wages almost half a month after starting its second season in 2016, PWHPA members looked for a fresh start instead. . Their goal was to form a new league – preferably with NHL support – and featuring a sustainable business model in which players would be fairly remunerated in wages and benefits.
It is not certain that the NWHL salary increase is enough to start a conversation.
PWHPA executive Jayna Hefford welcomed the development.
“It’s great to see the league taking positive steps to better support its athletes financially,” Hefford wrote in a text to AP. “This is the direction this game and its players – today and tomorrow – deserve.”
Shannon Szabados, a PWHPA member and former Canadian national team goalie, was skeptical.
“Until I see a league in North America that I would like my daughter to play in, my position with the PWHPA remains united to create a better opportunity for future generations,” Szabados wrote in a text.
The PWHPA has often cited how private start-up leagues like the NWHL have a poor track record of success once investor money runs dry.
Aside from the cut in wages in which many players believe they have wage arrears, the NWHL was asked to have an unknown number of business partners whose commitment to long-term sustainability was uncertain.
The NWHL now operates under a revamped executive structure under Tumminia and a newly established board of governors, with league founder Dani Rylan Kearney out of the picture.
Rylan Kearney stepped down as commissioner last fall and has since stepped down from his role overseeing the four NWHL teams controlled by W Hockey Partners: Metropolitan Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Minnesota Whitecaps and Buffalo Beauts.
The power structure of the NWHL also includes Miles Arnone, who is chairman of defending champion Boston Pride, and also has a stake in BTM Partners, which operates the Toronto Six and is behind an expansion offer for establish a team in Montreal in 2022-2023.
Arnone, managing partner of investment firm Cannon Capital, said he has always been open to discussions with PWHPA and added, “We would like to see a reconciliation.”
The PWHPA has spent the past two years hosting a series of weekend tours across North America, many of which are supported by NHL franchises. The PWHPA has five hub cities (two in the United States and three in Canada) where players have access to ice rinks and training facilities and is supported by sponsors such as Secret, Budweiser and adidas.
The NWHL cites major marketing deals it has made over the past two years, including one with Discover, which provided enough cost certainty to raise the salary cap even though the league has yet to hit it. the profitability.
The test for both is expected to take place this year, with members of the national team preparing for the Beijing 2022 Games. Non-national members of the PWHPA team may consider the NWHL.
Arnone said the decision to increase the salary cap had little to do with the PWHPA, although he acknowledged the possibility of it happening.
“There is a time when this would happen. I don’t know if it’s then or not, ”Arnone added. “Obviously, if some of them want to consider playing in our league and do that, that would be great too.”
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