On New Year’s Day, while the NHL was celebrating its annual outdoor showcase – the Winter Classic between Vegas and Seattle – the world of women’s hockey also saw a pretty historic moment. January 1st marked the first game in the inaugural season of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL).
While women’s hockey has been a staple of collegiate and international play for years, the PWHL marks a big step forward in the world of women’s professional hockey. Previously, the National Women’s Hockey League (later renamed the Premier Hockey Federation) had some moderate success, but was continually plagued by money problems and was dissolved in 2023 to make way for the new PWHL.
With a single ownership group and full partnership with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), the PWHL is poised for a more successful run.
In its inaugural season, the league will include six teams (a throwback to the NHL’s own “Original Six”): New York, Boston, Toronto, Minnesota, Montreal, and Ottawa.
Top Women’s Players Leading The Teams
The PWHL includes some of the best women’s players around from collegiate and international play. They include former Wisconsin national champion Hilary Knight; U.S. Olympian Kendall Coyne Schofield (who competed in the All-Star Skills competition against the NHL players in 2019); Team Canada mainstay and silver and gold medal-winning Olympian Marie-Philip Poulin; former Cornell team captain and another Canadian Olympian Micah Zandee-Hart; Canadian Olympic 2022 MVP Brianne Jenner; Blayre Turnbull, another national champion (and team captain) at Wisconsin; and many more.
The PWHL was justifiably excited about their opener between New York and Toronto:
Tennis Hall-of-Famer and PWHL board member Billie Jean King was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck, and other stars, like 4-time U.S. Olympic hockey medalist Julie Chu, congratulated the league on its inauguration.
A couple of nights later, none other than recently retired Boston Bruins legend and captain Patrice Bergeron and his family attended the opener between Boston and Minnesota, also to drop the ceremonial first puck.
Disappointment For Toronto, But Not For The League
Unfortunately for Toronto fans, their PWHL team had about the same success as the Maple Leafs usually do in the playoffs, losing to New York 4-0.
But despite that result for Toronto, the league is off to a great start. In a world where men are invading women’s sports and women’s spaces, it is great to see a new hockey league just for women, and we wish everyone in the PWHL nothing but success.