Brossard, QC – When asked about developing a professional women’s hockey league, Marie-Philip Poulin reiterated that it was coming.
On Tuesday, she was relieved to finally be able to be more specific in her answer.
“There, I can finally say it. It will be in January,” Bolin said, on the sidelines at the Montreal Canadiens’ developmental camp.
Members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Association (PWHPA) on Sunday ratified a collective agreement with investors in a future league. The move paves the way for the circuit’s launch in January 2024.
The other pivotal moment came last week, when Los Angeles Dodgers president Mark Walter, one of the investors in the new league, bought the Premier Hockey Association (PHF), a seven-team rival league, mainly based in Toronto and Montreal.
Former tennis player Billie Jean King will serve on the new league’s board of directors.
“The PWHPA is thrilled to put this in place not only for us, but also so that little girls can dream of being part of this league,” said Poulin, Canadiens player development consultant. Finally, we have the right people in place, and it happens at the right time. »
The collective agreement will enter into force on August 1 and will be valid until July 31, 2031.
“We wanted a collective agreement and to have the resources to get wages right,” said Paulin, a three-time Olympic gold medalist with the Canadian team. We wanted to have physiotherapists, doctors and all the infrastructure of a professional league. »
The goal of the future league, Bolin said, is to allow players to live off their passion without having to find another job to make ends meet.
Salaries are expected to range between $35,000 and $80,000. Players will also be offered many benefits, including a pension fund, health and life insurance.
“We’re not going to get paid millions of dollars, we realize that,” Bolen said. But if we can get enough money to live on hockey, why not? »
Bolin believes that investors are committed enough to the project for it to be viable in the long term.
She also hopes to see people gather around women’s hockey in the six cities where the teams will be established.
“We don’t compare ourselves to men’s hockey,” she insisted. The game is different. There are no checks, but when people see the speed of the game and see it’s best against the best, they’ll join. »
However, there will not be just winners with the launch of this new league. PWHPA members were not part of the PHF and players who developed in this circuit would find themselves out of work.
“We want women’s hockey to be a professional sport, but the world of professional sports is not easy,” said Pauline. You have to fight for your job every single day. Unfortunately, not everyone will be able to play in the league. Some players will graduate from university and not be able to get a place with a team. But maybe next year they will be able to steal the place from an experienced player. »
“This is how it works in the NHL, in professional sports. We know this is going to be a real women’s league and we’ll see how things play out in January.”
The PWHPA was founded after the collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. Its members refused to join the PHF and its previous version, the NWHL, because these leagues had not reached a professional level, they said.
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