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NWHL rebrands for Premier Hockey Federation entering its seventh year

The National Women’s Hockey League is history. Welcome, Premier Hockey Federation.

North America’s first female professional hockey league to pay players a salary on Tuesday adopts the new title as part of a rebranding to reflect sweeping changes in management structure, combined with an influx of private ownership entering its seventh season.

“The league has come a long way since its inception in 2015 and we believe it is the right time and the right message as we strengthen our commitment to growing the game and inspiring young people,” Commissioner Ty Tumminia told the Associated Press on Monday. . “It really reflects what we do. Everything about us is new as we enter this new era.”

The decision to change names also gave the Six-Team Association the opportunity to make a social statement by removing gender from its title.

“We felt it was time for our players to be defined by their talent and skill,” Tumminia said. “It’s not like they’s female phenomenal. You’re just phenomenal.”

In billing the change “No labels, no boundaries”, the association also focused on making its new title more inclusive by respecting the different gender identities of its players and fans.

The new season opens on November 6th. The association’s logo turns black and white and has three stars that form the silhouette of a crown that tops the initials “PHF”.

The rebrand follows a series of changes made over the past year to the union’s bid to achieve financial stability and move beyond the investor-based start-up model NWHL first operated under as the vision of founder and former commissioner Dani Rylan Kearney.

Since Tumminia replaced Rylan Kearney in October, the federation introduced a new management structure led by a board of directors, added employees at the league office level and completed the sale of all its franchises to private owners. Originally, the league controlled all of its teams and was essentially run by Rylan Kearney from New York headquarters.

The influx of new ownership, investors and sponsors led to NWHL’s announcement in April that it would double its salary cap to $ 300,000 for each team, despite being shortened by a coronavirus-shortened two-week season in which the playoffs were postponed by almost two months after a COVID-19 outbreak among its players.

PHF has teams based in Boston; Toronto; Monmouth Junction, New Jersey; St. Paul, Minnesota; Danbury, Connecticut; and Buffalo, New York. After expanding to Toronto last year, PHF has announced that it intends to add a seventh team in Montreal to the start of the 2022-23 season.

Metropolitan Riveters captain Madison Packer sees rebranding as another step in distancing the federation from the many previous hiccups.

“This separates us from any negativity or negative perception that may have been there,” said Packer, who has been with the NWHL since its inaugural season. “As these changes continue to happen and we re-establish ourselves, many of the players are the same, much of the structure looks the same, but it’s different. It’s a new improved model of what we had before.”

As for removing gender from the title, Packer said it equalizes the rules of the game.

“Respectfully, I don’t know if men always understand, especially for me, because I encounter it a lot,” Packer said. “We play with the same size puck, in the same size ice rink, the same nets … So to remove this label you have to not just remove it, but in the logo delete ‘W’, I think is authoritative.”

Tumminia said the decision to go with the word “federation” represented a desire to reflect the international composition of its players. She said the change should also help better market the league globally, with most European and Asian sports run by federations.

Prior to a mixed reaction to the name change from the fan base, Tumminia hoped it would at least open a conversation “about watching professional sports in a gender-neutral way.”

“We think in time they will also support it,” Tumminia said. “But facilitating this conversation is really the key here.”

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