Not even close.
For the Men: According to the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, the minimum player salary for the 2022-23 season is $750,000 US. But some of the league’s players make millions.
For the Women: The PWHL has said their players’ salaries will be $35,000 to $80,000 US, and that six players on each team will make no less than $80,000.
Brianne Jenner, who was on the Players Association bargaining committee, told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning they wanted to make sure there was “good parity” in the league and “a cap on how many players could be at the minimum.”
Asked what pay equity means to her, she admitted it’s a tough question.
“I think we have a long way to go,” she said. “We recognize that our players are dedicating a lot of time, sacrificing as much as any male counterpart and putting, you know, the sweat equity into their work and the dedication into their work. So to see our sport have an opportunity where players can make a salary, a fair salary, is huge. And, you know, it’s just the beginning.”
She added it’s on the players now “to build those fan bases, to attract those fans and to continue to excite investors, to become a part of our sport.”
‘Language of hockey’
While there’s no mandate for coaching or management roles to be filled by women in the new league, the opportunity for increased visibility is evident.
Other women’s hockey leagues have folded. What’s different this time?
PWHL’s SVP of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford says she hopes the new league will “set the bar.”
She says the PWHL is looking to the WNBA and the National Women’s Soccer League and learning from their experiences about what has worked, and what has not.
“I really think we’re going to set the standard,” she said. “We have a group that’s behind this that is committed to so many things beyond just women’s hockey, but around equality and equal opportunity.”
Key this time, she says, is the collective bargaining agreement.
“It provides certainty for the athletes. It provides certainty around working conditions, player safety, meals, housing. For the ownership group, it’s sustainability. It’s ensuring that we’re on a path to make this successful in the long term.“
Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter and wife Kimbra, team president Stan Kasten and tennis legend Billie Jean King will help run the league after Walter’s firm purchased assets of the Professional Hockey Federation (PHF)
It also could bring the NHL to the table in a support role. Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he and team owners did not want to get involved in a dispute between leagues and would throw weight behind one, once it was formed.
“The National Hockey League congratulates the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association and the Premier Hockey Federation on their agreement,” the NHL said. “We already have initiated discussions with representatives of this unified group regarding how we can work together to continue to grow the women’s game.”
The PWHPA had been working with the Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises over the past 14 months in a bid to launch its own league.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity to advance women’s sports,” King said. “I have no doubt that this league can capture the imagination of fans and a new generation of players.”
What cities will have teams?
There are six teams, including three Canadian franchises: Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.
The U.S. cities of Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the New York City area will also have teams in the inaugural season.
The teams’ names have not yet been announced.
There will be a total of 150 players, mostly former Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association and Premier Hockey Federation members, plus Europeans players from neither organization.
When does the season start?
Training camp starts the week of Nov.13, and the inaugural 24-game season starts in January.
There will be a Championship Cup up for grabs, too
The deal will run through 2031 and features a minimum salary of $35,000 for players on active rosters
In the meantime, existing PHF player contracts have been voided, though an agreement is in place to pay those under contract a portion of their salary through September, the person told AP. Some players are losing out on contracts they signed worth more than $150,000 over two seasons.
The higher salaries helped the PHF attract several high-profile international players, including Switzerland’s Alina Muller, Sweden’s Emma Soderberg and former Finland goalie and ex-PWHPA board member Noora Raty.
North American women’s pro hockey has seen leagues come and go this century, with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folding in 2019 after 12 seasons featuring some of the best players in the world. Dani Rylan Kearney launched the NWHL in 2015 as an investor-funded, four-team league but the league scuffled at times and it was rebranded as the PHF.
The PWHPA was formed in 2019 in the fallout of the CWHL demise. Its members balked at joining the NWHL and instead pursued their vision of a league with a sustainable economic model and better compensation.
Earlier this month, PWHPA board member and U.S. star Hilary Knight insisted that the PHF was not the best model for building the women’s pro game, even if the divide in the sport persisted.
“I make this distinction: The more women we can have get paid to do the sport they love, I think that’s awesome,” Knight said. “What bothers me is the illusion of professionalism and what women’s hockey should be, and settling for what it is, right? And I think that’s the big distinction is let’s call it what it is.”