On September 7, 2021, With just two months until the NWHL is slated to start their seventh season, news broke that the league will be renamed the Premier Hockey Federation.
It’s a big change for a league that is seemingly finally on the up-and-up, and it’s a change that buries all the baggage the NWHL was carrying. A fresh start with new leadership and an overhauled attempt at inclusivity.
The NWHL has grown exponentially over the last calendar year, undergoing a regime change from original commissioner Dani Rylan to Tyler Tumminia, as well as changing its governing body and selling the remaining four clubs that were under league control to private owners.
Tyler Tumminia, who was named the official commissioner of the league in August of 2021 after holding the role on an interim basis since October of 2020, has been at the helm of major changes within the NWHL. The league sold the Connecticut Whale, Buffalo Beauts, Metropolitan Riveters and Minnesota Whitecaps to independent ownership groups as well as securing big sponsors like Discover, and doubling the salary cap to $300,000. The league also signed a streaming deal with Twitch and did 2 million total views with a 260% year-over-year registered follower count during the shortened 2021 season and Isobel Cup playoffs. Not to mention they had their first nationally televised games with over 200,000 combined viewers over two days as the crowned the Boston Pride the first two-time winners in league history.
Obviously the endgame is to not only grow their own successful league, but to have a working agreement with the PWHPA, a platform formed as an alternative to the NWHL as players were unhappy with the direction Dani Rylan was taking the league. The PWHPA features many of the biggest names in women’s hockey and most all the Olympians who represent their country internationally. Finding a way to incorporate the two leagues would put one, elite level product out to the public and give women’s hockey the best chance at success.
Not only does this open doors for a potential PWHPA reunion down the road, it also makes the league more inclusive. Removing the “W” opens the door for non-binary players to feel accepted by the league.
It’s a change that is going to take a minute to get used to, but it also signifies a new era for women’s hockey and hopefully gives the NWHL a fresh start as they head into season seven, scheduled to start the weekend of November 6.
goodbye NWHL, hello PHF.
you can watch their hype video announcing the change here:
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: @NWHL twitter