The Professional Women’s Hockey League’s inaugural season will launch in January 2024 with teams in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Boston, Minneapolis–St. Paul and the New York City area.
The PWHL will start play after having bought out the Premier Hockey Federation in June. The PHF previously had teams in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, the Minneapolis—St. Paul region and New York City regions. While the PHF also had teams in Hartford, Connecticut, and Buffalo, New York, the PWHL will instead add a third Canadian team in Ottawa to split the six-team league equally between teams in Canadian and American markets.
The 2023–2024 PWHL schedule will feature 24 regular season games per team. The full schedule will be announced in the coming months. Rosters will begin forming during an initial free agency period beginning September 1, with the majority of the league’s founding players to be selected during the 2023 PWHL Draft on September 18.
“Today, we look ahead to a phenomenal future for the PWHL,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations. “We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights.”
The PWHL is in the final stages of securing six general managers who will be responsible for building team rosters through free agency and the draft. A Player Evaluation Advisory Committee has assessed the eligible player pool as an additional resource for the general managers. The committee has members representing all levels of the women’s game from professional (PWHPA and PHF) to collegiate programs (NCAA and U SPORTS) to international competition (Hockey Canada, USA Hockey and IIHF).
Initially, six players on each team will be signed to three-year Standard Player Agreements of no less than $80,000 per league year. In 2023–2024, 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.
The league is supported financially by Mark Walter, chairman and controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Kimbra Walter. PWHL is led by a board of directors that includes Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, Dodgers President Stan Kasten and Dodgers Senior Vice President of Business Strategy Royce Cohen.
“On behalf of ownership and our board, I am honored to announce the official name of our new league and to unveil the blueprint for this historic inaugural season. And we are especially proud to be providing this new platform for elite women athletes,” said Kasten. “Our great game has the power to captivate and connect sports fans everywhere, and we are thrilled to plant roots in six of North America’s most passionate hockey markets.”