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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: NWHL drama and the birth of the PWHPA

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Many developments #ForTheGame and in the NWHL over the past two weeks.

Liz Knox (37) in goal for the Markham Thunder
Liz Knox, former Markham Thunder goalie, is one of the spokespeople for the new Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA).
Dave Holland / CWHL

A lot has happened in the last two weeks!

On Monday, the players involved in #ForTheGame launched the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association. If you read one article about it, you should read Kirsten Whelan’s interview with Liz Knox, former co-chair of the CWHLPA. Among other important points: although you’ll see some outlets referring to it as a union, the PWHPA is a non-profit organization, not a formal labour union. If you read Finnish, or trust Google Translate to properly translate from Finnish, you’ll want to read Noora Räty’s interview with YLE, in the grand old tradition of European players saying more to their local media than they do in English language interviews!

Meanwhile, the NWHL free agent signing period opened on May 15. The most convenient place to track signings is The Ice Garden, who have brought back their NWHL Signing Tracker for another season. So far, vocal NWHL advocates Madison Packer and Kaleigh Fratkin have both re-signed, and the first NWHL rookie of the season is Tori Sullivan. For the first time since the second season, the league is publishing salaries: for the season (24 games), Packer will get $12k, Fratkin $11k and Sullivan $5k.

In less positive news for the league, they’ve lost two of their NHL partnerships over the last two weeks. Pegula Sports and Entertainment has given control of the Buffalo Beauts back to the NWHL (who will now have to also renegotiate the agreement in terms of the cost for ice time at HarborCenter) and the New Jersey Devils have dissolved their partnership with the Metropolitan Riveters. The Riveters will no longer play games at the Devils’ training facility, Barnabas Health Hockey House, although the Devils say “they will make ice time available at the Hockey House to women’s hockey players”. When the Pegula news came out, Jack Brodt revealed to AP that the Minnesota Whitecaps never actually signed any agreement to be owned by the NWHL, which seems to have confused the NWHL front office.

Meanwhile Toronto and Montréal are both listed as options for anyone who wants to sign up on the NWHL website as a potential free agent, and only two of the five? seven? teams currently have an official GM.

There’s other news below about the Hockey USA Goaltending camp, new additions to the Canada West division in U Sports, coaching changes in the NCAA and the first former CWHLer to sign in Europe for next season.

(Oh, also some white knight from Vancouver decided it would be a good idea to pretend he was launching a new professional women’s hockey league in North America. He may even think he is launching a new women’s hockey league in North America, but contrary to the claims on his website, there are currently no players at all associated with the idea. He also does not appear to have any money.)

It’s been kind of an offseason so far. Nap time?

NWHL

AP Source: Pegula relinquishes control of NWHL Buffalo team
The NWHL will re-assume control of the franchise, but will have to renegotiate facility fees if the league intends for the Beauts to continue playing at the Pegula-owned HarborCenter, the person said.

Pegula Sports and Entertainment Splits From NWHL
Sources have indicated to The Victory Press that PSE’s split from the NWHL had been considered for some time, and may have been inevitable, rather than a direct result of the players’ decision to sit out.

The Pegulas, Penn State, and their past involvement in women’s hockey - The Ice Garden
The Pegulas, and PSE, have helped support women’s hockey at the college level for years. What’s that say about their future in pro hockey?

Devils ending partnership with NWHL’s Riveters
The NWHL still intends to have the Riveters play next season, but they will need to find a new place to play after the NHL’s Devils dissolved their relationship with the women’s hockey team.

2019-2020 NWHL Signing Tracker - The Ice Garden
Keep up with the signings heading into season five

Riveters re-sign Madison Packer - The Ice Garden
The Riveters have re-inked a franchise player for the 2019–20 season

Kaleigh Fratkin Returns to the Pride - Stanley Cup of Chowder
The NWHL gets its first signing for next season and it is a Boston regular.

For the Game

What would a WNHL look like? – The Athletic
Sources said there is a tentative plan in place for the NHL to get involved in a professional women's league, but what does that look like? If you’ve been paying attention there’s not really anything new here beyond a quote or two but it’s a good summary of things we’ve heard the NHL might be thinking about, things the NHL probably should be thinking about, things the players want, and some of the financial challenges.

Pelkey: Highest Paid Hockey Player In NWHL Earned $6,000 | Vermont Public Radio
A rare audio link. The $6000 figure is interesting because the article below quotes Amanda Kessel’s salary for last season as a little over $10,000.

Sask. hockey player holds out on going pro amidst women’s league turmoil | CBC News
Saskatoon’s Emily Clark was hoping to join the pro hockey world once she finished university this year. That plan is now on hold indefinitely.

What #ForTheGame could mean for Nordic hockey - The Ice Garden
”In unity there is strength.”

Women’s hockey stars start players association, push for viable league
The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association says its goal is to get a pro women’s league that has adequate funding and support.

The PWHPA Is Ready For The Work Ahead
On Monday, the players who have joined the #ForTheGame pledge announced the creation of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, which was officially founded on Friday, May 17.

Top hockey players in North America aim for a new women’s professional league and also negotiate with NHL: “The purpose is to create a product that is of interest” | Yle Sports | yle.fi
PWHPA, a new association of female hockey players, aims for one common North American professional league.

International hockey

USA Hockey Launches New Goaltending Development Program Ahead of 2019-2020 Season
The new program will commence Thursday (May 16) at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., where the top collegiate and postgraduate female goaltenders, and the top junior male goaltenders in the nation will come together for four days of specialized training and mentoring to support their long-term development as elite athletes.

USA Hockey’s New-Look Goaltending Camp is Underway - The Ice Garden
Ten of America’s best female goaltenders are currently training at USA Hockey’s goaltending camp in Michigan

Introducing the Brianna Decker Endowment for Girls Hockey
Fund created by Olympic champion Decker will help grow and develop 8U and 10U girls hockey programs

ESPN to air inaugural Aurora Games festival on ESPNU and ESPN3 | Sports | troyrecord.com
ESPN announced today at The espnW Summit NYC that it will be the exclusive broadcaster of the inaugural Aurora Games Festival, designed to provide a platform to shine a light

Concordia awards 10 new honorary doctorates
Caroline Ouellette to be honoured for her outstanding career as a women’s hockey player, coach and ambassador

S. Korea pledges support for Asian women’s hockey league involving Koreas | Yonhap News Agency
South Korea has offered its support for a proposed Asian women’s hockey league involving the two Koreas, China and Japan, officials here said Wednesday.

Life in black and white
Whether she’s travelling the world, mentoring young officials or sharing her passion with her daughter, Meghan MacTavish is leaving her mark on the game

European club hockey

SDHL (Sweden) Nicoline Søndergaard Jensen ready for Luleå Hockey / MSSK | Aftonbladet
Luleå Hockey / MSSK recruits Danish national team forward

Naille Lions Savolainen, Crooked by Criticism of Swedish GM, is not leaving Luleå | Yle Sports | yle.fi
Ronja Savolainen, a Finnish hockey hockey team and Luleå defender, is not leaving the Swedish championship team, although Olof Östblom , the Swedish hockey club’s competition manager, offered such an option to Savo.

Just how good is Luleå/MSSK? - The Ice Garden
The SDHL’s champs are, for the moment, the best pro women’s team in the world

Q&A with Kelty Apperson of SDE - The Ice Garden
Former Inferno forward talks about her next adventure in Stockholm.

WHL / ZhHL (Russia) This year Tornado HK fell from ZhHL superpower to a team that missed the playoffs - The Ice Garden
Are Tornado’s days of being one of the top teams in the ZhHL over?

U Sports

MacEwan University hockey programs heading to another level | Edmonton Sun
It's been a long journey for the MacEwan University men's and women's hockey teams to the U-Sports Canada West Conference.

Langley’s Spartans to play hockey in top university league – BC Local News
They'll be facing off against the best teams in western Canada

NCAA

Boston University promotes Keady Norton to women's associate head coach | College Hockey | USCHO.com
Boston University announced Thursday the promotion of Liz Keady Norton to women's associate head coach (photo: Boston University Athletics).

Rud jumps to Miami men's team after five seasons as SCSU women's coach | Grand Forks Herald
Monday morning, Miami University in Ohio announced the completion of new head hockey coach Chris Bergeron’s staff, with Rud as an assistant coach. This leaves a vacancy at St. Cloud State, where Rud has been the head women’s hockey coach for the past five seasons.

College women's hockey: Bulldogs promote Bellamy; 3-on-3 OT coming to WCHA | Duluth News Tribune

Yale names longtime Norwich coach Bolding new women's coach | College Hockey | USCHO.com
Yale has named Mark Bolding as the new women's hockey coach (photo: Nina Lindberg).