Dani Rylan Kearney will step down as commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League as the organization will use a different governance model going forward, based on one used by the National Hockey League and other professional leagues.

Taking over as Interim Commissioner is Tyler Tumminia, who most recently served as chairman of the Toronto Six, the NWHL expansion team launched in April.

“This is a time of opportunity and transformation for the NWHL and the changes we are making across the league will fortify a foundation for continued success well into the future,” said Tumminia. “I look forward to collaborating with our partners in the NWHL and our expanding community of fans to create a special place that honors the rich talents of women’s hockey.”

The six-team NWHL — with franchises in Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey along with Toronto — was owned by a group of investors that also owned four of the clubs, with the Boston Pride and Toronto Six owned by independent groups.  The league will instead move to an unincorporated association with a Board of Governors representing each member club. Kearney will continue as president of the original ownership group overseeing operations and the process of establishing independent ownership of the group’s four remaining teams

“For everyone who cares deeply about the NWHL and women’s hockey—especially our incredible athletes and impassioned fans—this is a landmark day signaling the start of a new era of growth,” said John Boynton, a member of the NWHL Board of Governors. “It begins with governance and a new structure and will result in major steps forward for the League on the ice, in our arenas, and as a business.”

Established in 2015, the NWHL was the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. Its next season was scheduled to start in October but because of the coronavirus will start in January 2021 at the earliest. Teams will still play a 20-game schedule before the Isobel Cup Playoffs, which in 2020 had to be canceled because of COVID-19.

“We would like to thank Dani for her role in founding the League and bringing it to where it is today. Dani has made an enormous impact on women’s hockey and led the NWHL from inception through its first five seasons, setting the stage for the next phase of growth,” said Andy Scurto, a member of the Board of Governors. “Tyler brings a wealth of relevant experience and we are confident that she will help take the League to the next level.”