By Allyson Z.
The National Women’s Hockey league has been reborn! In an effort spearheaded by Dani Rylan, a Northeastern graduate and former student-athlete, a league of four teams is set to premiere in October 2015.
Rylan’s first efforts to expand women’s hockey was to bring a CWHL team to New York, a plan that saw “positive progress” initially. When that fell through, Rylan took the route of creating an entirely separate women’s league, a project with a business model that is uniquely its own.
The operating money comes into the league via sponsors but making money isn’t the only thing the NWHL is involved in. The other side of the NWHL is the Foundation, a donation-based nonprofit whose goal is to “provide funding for education, training, and opportunities to increase women’s participation throughout the country.” Funding is at about 20% of their finance goals, according to Rylan.
The four teams currently trademarked are the New York Riveters, Connecticut Whale, Buffalo Beauts, and Boston Pride. There are verbal commitments from 20 players to play for these teams that have roster spots of 18 each. One of the larger things that separates them from the CWHL is that these players will receive a salary. Each team will have an operating budget by which team equipment and team staff are paid and have $270,000 dollars as a salary cap. This $270,000 will be negotiated by players in their contract, not automatically spread out evenly across all 18 roster players.
The season will play out over October to March with a total of 18 games, 9 at home and 9 away. Games may be streaming at NWHL Cross Ice Pass starting in October. The ending in March will allow for the players to be involved in international tournaments if they wish.
The teams will be made up of drafted players and free agents starting in 2016. Free agents are anyone who has their college degree and is signed by a team. Drafted players are those college players, juniors and seniors, who will register and be selected by a team and have their rights retained until after graduation. If they play for the teams before they graduate, they will not be paid in order to retain their NCAA eligibility and are required to finish their degree. Those interested in being drafted have until June 1, 2015 to register. The first year of the league will see only free agent players as those drafted this year will not be eligible to play yet.
The NWHL is having a launch party in New York City on April 13th. It is billed as a “historic night” with special guest speakers and is the first step towards a reborn NWHL becoming a true and financially viable reality.