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She Shoots, She Scores! Toronto is getting a Pro Women’s Hockey Team


The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) is poised to make a grand entrance in January with six teams

TORONTO, Sept. 6, 2023The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) is poised to make a grand entrance in January, as fans eagerly await the inaugural season, according to a league announcement in late August.

Spanning across both Canada and the United States and backed by the NHL, the PWHL represents a significant milestone in the ongoing effort to provide women with increased opportunities to thrive in the sport of hockey.

In recent times, women’s sports have witnessed remarkable growth in terms of viewership and influence. This year, notable events such as the NCAA tournament and the World Cup shattered records, paving the way for new sports stars to emerge while underscoring the persistent work needed in the sports world to achieve true gender equality.

Jayna Hefford, a revered figure in hockey and the Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations at PWHL, expressed, “We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the world’s top women’s players will have the chance to scale even greater heights.”

‘Original Six’ Teams announced for the PWHL

The PWHL will comprise three teams in the U.S. and three in Canada, with American franchises located in Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and the New York City area, potentially encompassing Connecticut and New Jersey. Meanwhile, Canadian franchises will be based in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa, Ontario.

The PWHL Schedule

The 2023-24 PWHL schedule will feature 24 regular season games per team. The full schedule will be announced in the coming months.

“Today, we look ahead to a phenomenal future for the PWHL,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. “We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports, and through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights.”

While details regarding home arenas, team names, and logos are yet to be unveiled, the PWHL plans to host its games in various facilities, from NHL-sized rinks to minor and junior league arenas. The league aims to provide digital streaming for all its games and hopes to secure linear television coverage.

The 2024 season schedule will likely run from early January through late May or early June. It will include a break to accommodate the IIHF Women’s World Championship in April. Subsequent seasons are slated to commence in November and conclude in May.

The League’s President

The league’s president, Stan Kasten, expressed that teams may not play all 12 home games in the same venue during the 2024 season. The PWHL plans to incorporate a number of neutral-site games in collaboration with the NHL, featuring cities outside of their “Original Six” territories.

The PWHL aims to be present at major NHL events like All-Star Weekend and outdoor games, further highlighting the NHL’s commitment to supporting women’s hockey. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has previously expressed interest in supporting a consolidated pro women’s league.

10-Year Plan

The league’s business plan spans ten years, demonstrating a long-term commitment to its success. Rosters for the inaugural season will begin forming during a free agency signing period starting on September 1, with the majority of founding players selected during the 2023 PWHL draft on September 18.


The league’s funding is provided by Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter and his wife, Kimbra, who purchased assets of the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) to dissolve the league and establish the PWHL as the sole professional women’s hockey league in North America.

The formation of the PWHL marked the end of a prolonged dispute between the PHF and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA), paving the way for a united pro women’s hockey league. The PWHL boasts a board of directors that includes sports legend Billie Jean King, sports executive Ilana Kloss, and Dodgers senior VP of business strategy Royce Cohen.

Teams will have staff consisting of 11 to 13 members, with the majority being full-time employees. Jayna Hefford, former commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, serves as the PWHL’s Senior VP of Hockey Operations, while longtime NHL executive Brian Burke will help run the PWHL Players Association.

Brian Burke – Labour Leader

Brian Burke, Executive Director of the Professional Women’s Hockey League Players Association (PWHLPA), finds himself in a unique situation as the labor leader, considering that PWHL players recently agreed to an eight-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) earlier this summer. This long-term CBA represents a significant foundation for labor peace, paving the way for robust growth within the league.

Burke sees this as a perfect storm of circumstances. First, the league has consolidated into a single entity, streamlining the decision-making process. Second, the eight-year CBA provides stability and a roadmap for prosperity right from the start. He believes that women hockey players have made remarkable improvements in various aspects of the game over the past two decades, from skating and shooting to the power of their shots and hockey intelligence.

In anticipation of his new role, Burke will relocate full-time to Toronto, which is expected to serve as the home office for the PWHL. He expressed his enthusiasm for the league and hopes to make it his long-term commitment, saying, “I’d like to be there for the next 10 years, so I hope it’s my last stop. I’d like to stay for as long as they want me. I like the people. I like the landscape. I really think this is an unprecedented opportunity for female hockey players.”

The Canadian General Managers


Gina Kingsbury, a prominent figure in women’s hockey, has taken on a new role as one of six general managers appointed by the PWHL for its inaugural season. Kingsbury will lead Toronto’s team, emphasizing her commitment to advancing women’s hockey at the professional level.

Previously holding a high-level position at Hockey Canada, where she served as Vice President of Hockey Operations and GM of Canada’s women’s team since 2018, Kingsbury’s decision to join the PWHL demonstrates her dedication to elevating women’s hockey. Her impressive track record includes helping Canada’s women’s team secure consecutive women’s world hockey titles in 2021 and 2022, as well as Olympic gold in Beijing last year.

As a player, Kingsbury contributed to Canada’s gold medal victories at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics, in addition to her involvement in three champion teams and three silver medal-winning performances at the women’s world championship.

The PWHL’s selection of general managers, including Kingsbury, highlights the league’s focus on hockey knowledge, collaboration, culture, and leadership in building out rosters in their respective markets. They have already begun their roles with the start of free agency and the upcoming draft.

Kingsbury recognizes the challenges of establishing a team in Toronto, where the competition for entertainment dollars is fierce. However, she is excited about the growth potential in a city with a rich history of women’s hockey and a large number of young girls actively participating in the sport.


Daniele Sauvageau, another appointee, has a strong connection to Canada’s national women’s program. She coached Canada to its first women’s hockey Olympic gold in 2002 and established a women’s high-performance hockey centre in Quebec in 2019. Sauvageau previously held the GM role for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association’s Montreal region from 2020 to 2023 and served as head coach from 2020 to 2022.


Michael Hirshfeld, another GM, brings a unique perspective to the league. He served as the executive director of the NHL Coaches’ Association for seven years after working as a corporate lawyer in Toronto and spending 14 years in the investment business. Hirshfeld believes his diverse skillset and perspective can be valuable to a new league like the PWHL.

Other GM’s include:


Pascal Daoust has taken on the role of General Manager for the PWHL’s New York franchise, with his appointment announced on September 1, 2023. Daoust’s background is steeped in the QMJHL, where he held the position of General Manager for the Val-d’Or Foreurs from 2016 to 2023. His leadership led the Foreurs to two President Cup titles and one appearance in the Memorial Cup.


Natalie Darwitz – Natalie Darwitz assumes the role of the first GM for the Minnesota franchise, officially appointed on September 1, 2023. Darwitz boasts an illustrious hockey career, including captaining the U.S. national team and securing three Olympic medals. Her playing days also encompass two NCAA championships and three world championships.With coaching experience, including serving as associate head coach at the University of Minnesota, and numerous hall of fame accolades, such as membership in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Darwitz brings a wealth of expertise to her position as GM in Minnesota.


Danielle Marmer is at the helm as General Manager for the Boston franchise. She has a strong hockey background, having played for Quinnipiac University and subsequently holding the position of Director of Player Development and Hockey Operations at the school. Marmer made history as the first woman to assume an on-ice role with the Boston Bruins, where she served as a former Player Development and Scouting Assistant. She also contributed as an Assistant Coach for Connecticut College’s women’s hockey team. In her role as GM for Boston, Marmer will oversee the team’s operations and development.

Free Agents

In a historic move, three prominent Canadian Olympians have become the inaugural signees in the newly formed Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL). This milestone sees forwards Emily Clark, Brianne Jenner, and goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer committing to three-year contracts with the PWHL’s Ottawa franchise, marking a significant step forward for women’s professional hockey.

Ottawa’s general manager, Mike Hirshfeld, expressed great enthusiasm about the signings, emphasizing the importance of not only securing top-tier talent but also establishing a culture of excellence within the organization. “We are thrilled with the three players we have acquired for the Ottawa franchise,” he said. “We truly believe that we have signed three incredible hockey players. As important to us, we are focused on making Ottawa a best-in-class organization in the PWHL, a place where players want to come and play. Building a culture is important to us, and we believe these three players are incredibly well-respected and will help us to lay the foundation of the type of organization we aspire to be.”

The trio of Clark, Jenner, and Maschmeyer has been integral to the Canadian national team’s recent success, securing two of the last three world championships and clinching the gold medal at the most recent Olympic Games. Brianne Jenner, at 32 years old, earned the title of MVP at the 2022 Beijing Games, where she equaled the Olympic record for goals scored in a single tournament with a remarkable nine goals.

Emily Clark, aged 27, showcased her skills in women’s professional hockey, having previously played in the now-dissolved Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) from 2019 to 2021. During the 2022-23 season, she continued to shine, finishing second in scoring with an impressive 23 points in 20 games.

Emerance Maschmeyer, at 28 years old, also brought her talents to the PWHPA, further solidifying her reputation as a top-tier goaltender. These three exceptional athletes not only add firepower to the Ottawa franchise but also bring a wealth of experience and leadership, making them valuable assets in the quest to establish the PWHL as a premier destination for women’s professional hockey. Their signings signal a promising future for the league and underscore the growing momentum behind women’s hockey at the professional level.

Top Picks

Here ia comprehensive overview of the top NCAA and USports players eligible for the 2023 PWHL Draft, each offering a unique skill set and potential for professional success:

  • Taylor Heise, F, Minnesota, NCAA: Considered one of the draft’s top talents, Heise is a frontrunner for selection by her home state team, Minnesota. Her exceptional skills make her a cornerstone player.
  • Alina Müller, F, Northeastern, NCAA: As the best international player in the draft, Müller’s consistency at both NCAA and international levels sets her apart as an elite prospect.
  • Sophie Jaques, D, Ohio State, NCAA: The Patty Kazmaier winner possesses a versatile skill set, excelling both offensively and defensively, making her an invaluable asset.
  • Emma Maltais, F, Ohio State, NCAA: A standout two-way player, Maltais is coveted for her scoring and defensive abilities. She’s also the only full-time Canadian national team member in the draft.
  • Emma Soderberg, G, Minnesota-Duluth, NCAA: Soderberg’s potential as a starting goalie is evident, having achieved success in college and international play. She’s a future star between the pipes.
  • Grace Zumwinkle, F, Minnesota, NCAA: Despite her omission from Team USA, Zumwinkle is a high-scoring, skilled player. Minnesota might grab her in later rounds.
  • Chloe Aurard, F, Northeastern, NCAA: Known for her partnership with
  • Alina Müller, Aurard played a crucial role in their success. She’s a prime target for any team.
  • Jesse Compher, F, Wisconsin, NCAA: With a national championship under her belt, Compher is a top-six forward prospect and a valuable addition for any team.
  • Gabrielle Hughes, F, Minnesota-Duluth, NCAA: Hughes secured her spot on Team USA this season and is a strong scorer, expected to excel in a middle-six role.

A Bright Future for the PWHL

In conclusion, the launch of the Professional Women’s Hockey League represents a significant milestone for women’s hockey, offering a promising future for the sport at the professional level. With strong backing from the NHL and an eight-year CBA in place, the league is well-positioned for stability and growth. The appointment of experienced general managers and the inclusion of top talent from NCAA and USports further add to the league’s credibility. As this new era in women’s hockey begins, it’s clear that the PWHL has the potential to not only provide opportunities for female athletes but also inspire the next generation of players and fans, ultimately shaping the future of women’s hockey in North America and beyond.

Key Dates

Sept. 1 – Initial free agency period begins
Sept. 3 – 2023 PWHL Draft declaration deadline
Sept. 10 – Initial free agency period ends
Sept. 18 – 2023 PWHL Draft

Fans can stay connected to the PWHL and register for email updates at thepwhl.com. Follow the new league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus all six new team accounts @pwhl_boston, @pwhl_minnesota, @pwhl_montreal, @pwhl_newyork, @pwhl_ottawa, and @pwhl_toronto.

by Myles Shane

Other articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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