The PWHL is a go! Details have been released today about the new, single and sustainable Professional Women's Hockey League by Stan Kasten of the PWHL board and Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford. Brian Burke, the Executive Director of the PWHLPA also provided some details from the Players' Association.

Important Things

What will the Toronto team be called?

We don't know yet!

Will they be a blue and white team as is right and proper and ordained by the hockey gods?

We don't know that either!

Where will they play?

Word is that some games will be in NHL and/or AHL and OHL rinks, as the NHL has been assisting the league whenever asked. Some of these games might be in neutral sites. And some of these might count as a team's "home game". The league is also actively sourcing quality training facilities which impacts choice of market and venues. All of this will be announced soon.

When will tickets go on sale?

There is no schedule yet, but October is the aim for that to appear.

Details, Details

The PWHL will begin, for this season only, with a January 2024 start and 24 games. In future years, the season will be 32 games and begin in November. The end date is not yet finalized, with the regular schedule in the future having a May ending followed by playoffs.

The league will have six teams in Toronto (YAY!), Ottawa (booo!), Montréal (booooooo!), Boston (BOOOOOOOO!), New York (whatever) and Minnesota (I've already forgotten they exist).

New York is actually the New York area, and not necessarily New York State. Minnesota is somewhere in Minneapolis-St. Paul with more details on exactly where to follow.

The PWHL has already pre-selected the pool of eligible players (over 300 players). Players on the teams will be members of the PWHLPA under the leadership of Brian Burke. The CBA between the league and the PA has already been ratified. Jayna Hefford clarified that players not on the list can declare for the draft if they are eligible and that draft rights last two years.

Teams will be allowed to sign three players in free agency beginning on September 1. A draft will be held in Toronto on September 18 to fill out the rosters to 18 total players for each team. After than, teams can sign more free agents to complete their initial roster.

Players will declare for the draft by September 3.

Of note, players with remaining collegiate eligibility are permitted to declare for the draft (in consultation with their campus compliance officers). source

Hefford stated she expects players in the NCAA playing in the 2023-2024 season will not be able to play in the PWHL season by joining after the end of their college season.

Training camp is in November, and:

No more than 20 Standard Player Agreements per team are permitted to be executed in advance of 2023-24 Training Camps, which will commence in November. Six players on each team will be signed to three-year SPAs of no less than $80,000 per league year. In 2023-24, up to five players on each team will be signed to two-year SPAs. A player will become a free agent following the termination or end date of a signed SPA.

For more, check out the FAQ:

Your questions answered. More to come as the season approaches.

Note, there's a link to sign up to get updates on ticket sales in the FAQ.

Brian Burke emphasized that it doesn't matter what league players were in before.

Players can be traded once the season starts, but there will be no draft pick changes until after the first season. This should make the first draft more like an expansion draft and subsequent drafts more like an entry draft.

Most of the details of league rules will be released in time. But the talk is all about spending real money on marketing and promotion with an emphasis on player-centric marketing.

Team staffs will be mostly fulltime staff of a dozen or so people. It is clear from the way staffing and the hockey ops were described that the teams will not be independently financed, but are all part of the PWHL as a business. That might change at some point in the future and teams might be for sale, expansion may happen in the future.

The PWHL has a 10-year business plan to invest in the startup and growth of the league and they have the funding to support their plans. They are operating as a remote business for now, with no firm plans to set up a physical office location.

That's all for today, when we know the details of the Toronto ??? we'll get ready to cheer for them around here.