Women’s pro hockey is back, but still facing an uncertain future

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ day by day e mail publication. Stay on top of things on what is taking place in sports activities through subscribing right here.

While maximum hockey enthusiasts are targeted at the get started of the brand new NHL season, the ladies’s pro recreation is returning too. On Saturday and Sunday, Montreal will host the fourth-season opener of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association’s barnstorming Dream Gap Tour. In 3 weeks, the Premier Hockey Federation starts its 8th season.

The optimism inherent within the get started of any sports activities season is tempered right here through the persistent uncertainty concerning the future of girls’s pro hockey. Here’s a take a look at the place issues stand with the 2 primary factions:

PWHPA

Formed from the ruins of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League after it folded in 2019, the PWHPA’s oft-stated goal stays the formation of a “sustainable” North American girls’s pro hockey league — ideally one funded through the NHL (just like the NBA subsidizes the WNBA). But, regardless of having just about each and every participant from the dominant Canadian and U.S. nationwide groups on its roster (in different phrases, just about the entire international’s easiest gamers), the PWHPA has been not able to succeed in that objective.

Back within the spring, the NHL brokered talks between the PWHPA and PHF in hopes that they could collaborate on a unified league. But the PWHPA walked away. Following that, studies advised a PWHPA-run pro league may just release this January, but that chance has since been dominated out. “I think our vision with the PWHPA has remained the same since we were founded, and that is to build a league that is professional in all aspects, not just in salary but in the way that players are supported — the facilities, healthcare, all avenues of that,” Canadian megastar Brianne Jenner advised CBC Sports’ Myles Dichter. “We still don’t feel that there is that professional league out there that has everything that we feel makes a league professional.”

In the wake of the ones failed makes an attempt, some tweaks have been made to this 12 months’s Dream Gap Tour in order that it could higher resemble a conventional league — for example, season-long standings and constant rosters for the 4 groups. But it stays necessarily a chain of exhibitions. Still, if you wish to watch established Olympic and world-championship stars like Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse and Jenner or the United States’ Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield on a extra common foundation, the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour is the one position to do it. (If you are in search of Canadian emerging megastar Sarah Fillier, who led the staff in scoring en path to its world-title victory in Denmark this summer time, she performs for the University of Princeton.)

For the approaching season, the PWHPA has a take care of CBC Sports to live-stream each and every Dream Gap Tour recreation international on its virtual platforms. Coverage of the Montreal forestall starts Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app, CBC Gem and CBC Sports’ YouTube channel.

PHF

The PWHPA’s use of the phrase “sustainable” leaves numerous room for interpretation, but the rival Premier Hockey Federation seems — at the floor, a minimum of — to be on first rate footing. The league, referred to as the NWHL ahead of rebranding final 12 months, has added a 7th franchise for the approaching season, with Montreal becoming a member of Toronto, Boston, Minnesota, Buffalo, Connecticut and a New Jersey-based staff known as the Metropolitan Riveters. The PHF just lately signed a two-year extension with ESPN that can see the sports-media large proceed to live-stream video games (TSN has the Canadian rights). Last season, the Isobel Cup championship ultimate used to be broadcast on tv on ESPN2.

The PHF additionally raised eyebrows just lately when former league MVP Mikyla Grant-Mentis signed with the Buffalo Beauts for a reported $80,000 US — believed to be the most important wage ever for a girls’s pro hockey participant. Several others are reportedly set to make north of $50,000 this season, and staff wage caps have greater to $750,000. 

And but, the PHF’s basic downside stays: just about the entire international’s easiest gamers still refuse to enroll in. For now, anyway. The canary within the coal mine would possibly become Brianna Decker, the American national-team megastar and previous NWHL MVP who starred within the NHL All-Star Skills Competition a couple of years in the past. Decker may not play this season because of the devastating leg damage she suffered on the Olympics final February, but over the summer time she left the PWHPA to take a front-office process with the PHF, turning into the primary high-profile participant to leap send. Decker later advised Sportsnet’s Kristina Rutherford that she would “absolutely” play within the PHF this season if wholesome. She added that she felt the PWHPA had “hit a bit of a standstill” and that lots of its gamers “were in the dark a lot.” Read extra concerning the combat between the rival organizations and the approaching Dream Gap Tour right here. Learn extra concerning the state of girls’s pro sports activities in Canada through looking at the newest episode of Bring It In with Morgan Campbell on CBC Gem.

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