The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association will put on events at venues around the country to build momentum for establishing a single league with a sustainable economic model.
The sport of women’s hockey has seen some dramatic shifts in recent months—including many players rejecting the current professional leagues.
But the stars of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) are nonetheless ready to exhibit their skills. The group, which was founded in the spring after hundreds of women’s hockey players decided to sit out an upcoming season, has announced a “Dream Gap Tour,” a series of games in different cities, combined with youth clinics and other community events.
“This is a year of purpose for every member of the players association. Young hockey players—boys and girls—should be able to share a dream of one day making a living as a professional hockey player,” noted Kendall Coyne Schofield, an Olympic gold medalist and the captain of the U.S. National Hockey Team, in a news release. “That reality doesn’t exist today for girls. Together, we are on a mission to change that.”
Starting next month, PWHPA will head to Toronto, Chicago, and New Hampshire where 80 of its players to compete against one another in four-team tournaments, with more potential events planned in other hockey hot spots such as Buffalo, New York, and Southern California. Additionally, PWHPA members will play in exhibition games against Boston College and alumni of the San Jose Sharks next month.
The events, which have the sponsorship of Adidas and the backing of Billie Jean King Enterprises, look to highlight the rising interest in women’s hockey and the desire for formal support from existing hockey bodies such as the National Hockey League, USA Hockey, and Hockey Canada.
While the sport has had leagues in the past—including the National Women’s Hockey League, which has just five teams—PWHPA has raised concerns that the league doesn’t pay a livable wage or offer health insurance—the latter a major failing, given the sport’s physical nature.
Players note that there’s only really a structure in place for Olympic play.
“We’re not talking about millions of dollars here. We just want to be able live and train full time and see how far we can take this game,” defenseman Alyssa Gagliardi told The Associated Press. “For so long, it’s only been limited to the girls on the national team that can truly do that full time, so this is kind of broadening that.”