FILE - Connecticut Whale defender Maggie LaGue (12) moves the puck up the ice as Minnesota Whitecaps forward Haley Mack (19) defends during the first period of a semifinal in the NWHL Isobel Cup hockey tournament in Boston, in this Friday, March 26, 2021, file photo. The National Women’s Hockey League made a potentially game-changing decision for the sport in approving to double its salary cap to $300,000 for each of its six teams on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, based on projections it is making strides in achieving financial stability entering its seventh season.(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

FILE - Connecticut Whale defender Maggie LaGue (12) moves the puck up the ice as Minnesota Whitecaps forward Haley Mack (19) defends during the first period of a semifinal in the NWHL Isobel Cup hockey tournament in Boston, in this Friday, March 26, 2021, file photo. The National Women’s Hockey League made a potentially game-changing decision for the sport in approving to double its salary cap to $300,000 for each of its six teams on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, based on projections it is making strides in achieving financial stability entering its seventh season.(AP Photo/Mary Schwalm, File)

NWHL doubles salary cap to $300K, delays Montreal expansion

NWHL was established in 2015 as a four-team league and North America’s first to pay female players a salary

The National Women’s Hockey League announced Wednesday it is doubling its salary cap to $300,000 for each of its six teams based on projections that it is making strides in achieving financial stability entering its seventh season.

“Making an investment in those players by doubling the salary cap we believe is a very strong signal that we’re serious about this,” Boston Pride chairman Miles Arnone told The Associated Press. “This is something we can afford to do. It’s substantial, yet it doesn’t mark the end. It marks the beginning of a process we expect to go on over the next number of years.”

At the same time, Arnone said the league is putting off adding an expansion franchise in Montreal until the 2022-23 season because of continuing uncertainties due to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Canada. Arnone has a stake in the BTM ownership group behind the Montreal expansion bid and operates the Toronto Six, which completed its first season.

The decision to increase the cap from $150,000 means salaries will average $15,000 based on 20-player rosters. Arnone estimated salaries will range between $10,000 to $35,000, not including additional bonuses that come with the league’s revenue-sharing agreement with its players.

Though the NWHL is not yet turning a profit, first-year commissioner Tyler Tumminia cited inroads made in generating major sponsorship deals — including a high-six-figure agreement with Discover — and growing its fanbase despite playing a shortened two-week season that was disrupted by a COVID-19 outbreak and forced a near two-month postponement of the playoffs.

“In a very challenging year for all sports, I think this is a very exciting announcement, and something we’re proud of as a league, frankly being at the point where our goals are literally becoming reality now,” Tumminia told the AP. “If you go to project out, we’re confident that the model and the revenue stream is going up.”

Arnone said the decision to increase the cap and delay expansion are unrelated.

Aside from the challenges of establishing a new team amid COVID-19 restrictions still in effect in Canada, Arnone noted he would prefer to focus on developing the Six’s infrastructure and fanbase. The Six have yet to play a game in Toronto after spending their first season exclusively in the United States due to the border being closed.

“We will expand. And we have very concrete plans to do that, and I think you can expect very clearly that there will be expansion for Season 8,” Arnone said. “Our view is that it’s a little better to take more time, build up better infrastructure for that new team, get the right people in place and really have a good go at that.”

Arnone, the managing partner for Cannon Capital investment firm, has played a key role in transforming the NWHL’s leadership since purchasing the Pride two years ago. In that time, the league has restructured its executive model by establishing a board of governors made up of owners, investors and shareholders in a move that led to league founder Dani Rylan Kearney stepping down as commissioner last autumn.

The NWHL’s four other teams, based in Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey and Buffalo, New York, are operated by W Hockey Partners, which is actively seeking to sell the franchises to private ownership groups.

The NWHL was established in 2015 as a four-team league and North America’s first to pay female players a salary. It has endured growing pains and nearly shuttered a month into its second season when the NWHL made the drastic decision to slash player salaries nearly in half because of projected shortfalls under a then-$270,000 per team salary cap.

The cutbacks led to numerous high-profile players leaving the NWHL to play in Canada.

Tumminia and Arnone said the NWHL is better positioned to not have a repeat of what happened in 2016 because the league no longer operates its teams and has a better grasp on its cash flow. Though still dependent on gate revenue, the NWHL has secured longer-term deals with corporate partners and has increased its visibility.

The boost in salary has the potential of drawing additional players to the NWHL after a majority of America’s and Canada’s top players balked at joining the league, instead forming the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association following the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019. The PWHPA’s objectives are to establish a single North American women’s pro league capable of paying a living wage and with a long-term sustainable economic model.

“We would hope that this will, on the margin, make a difference. We’ll see, right?” Arnone said, referring to the split between the NWHL and PWHPA. “We’d love to see some reconciliation.”

The NWHL nearly tripled its viewership this season with over 2 million views on its streaming platform, Twitch. The Isobel Cup semifinals and final were broadcast nationally for the first time and averaged more than 100,000 viewers on NBCSN.

“We have a much better handle (on economics). We’ve been through six seasons, one of which was of course historic on its level of disruption to understand what the business looks like,” Arnone said, referring to this past season. “If we can make it through that, doubling the salary cap is like a walk in the park.”

___

John Wawrow, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Health held a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib in Surrey, which would be in what the BCCDC refers to as the Panorama community, on Friday, May 7, 2021. Roughly 400 people pre-registered to get their vaccine the week before. (Photo: Lauren Collins
Surrey communities recording more COVID-19 cases also seeing lower vaccination rates

Those same communities were highlighted in the SPEAK survey, which highlighted disparities in the city

Twenty-nine staff members at Sunrise Poultry Processors Ltd. in Newton have tested positive for the virus, according to an information bulletin from Fraser Health Saturday (May 8). The health authority issued a 10-day closure order, effective May 7. (Image: Google Maps)
29 staff test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey poultry processing plant

Meantime, outbreak over at Surrey Memorial Hospital

The College of Massage Therapists of B.C. says Van (William) Dinh, a registered massage therapist in Surrey and Langley, has had his licence suspended while an inquiry committee panel investigates allegations of sexual misconduct. (Unsplash photo)
Surrey massage therapist suspended amid sexual misconduct investigation

CMTBC received complaint Van (William) Dinh allegedly exposed ‘sensitive areas of the patient’s body’

Hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday evening (May 7) to remember 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, who was killed in last weekend’s brazen daylight shooting outside North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall. (James Smith photo)
Hundreds gather to remember victim of North Delta shooting

Corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, was killed in what police say was a targeted incident

TEASER PHOTO ONLY
Surrey woman a face of World Ovarian Cancer Day campaign in London, New York

‘It’s so important we find better treatments,’ Catherine Eiswerth says

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

The dash cam footage, taken May 7 at 8:18 a.m. belonged to the driver of a southbound vehicle that recently travelled out of the tunnel. (Reddit/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Dash cam captures dramatic rollover crash on Highway 99

Only one person sustained injuries from the collision, says B.C. Ambulance Services

Chevy stranded on a ledge above a rocky canyon at Mimi Falls near Logan Lake, April 28, 2021. (Photo credit: Margot Wikjord)
Police officer and fire chief team up in risky rescue of stranded dog near Logan Lake

Chevy, a rescue dog, needed rescuing again after getting stuck on a ledge above rocky canyon

Police were on the scene of a fatal shooting in Abbotsford. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. government to give more than $8 million for programs to curb gang violence

221 not-for-profit projects led by local governments and school districts among others will receive a one-time grant

Vancouver Giants earned a 6-2 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets Friday night, May 7, in Kamloops (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants down Kelowna Rockets 6-2

Two short-handed goals for Langley-based team

<a href="Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning." target="_blank"></a>Facebook users reported seeing a body on the side of the road this morning. (File photo)
Man killed in fatal hit-and-run collision between Abbotsford and Chilliwack

Body reported at 6 a.m., police close North Parallel Road, single highway lane as they investigate

Most Read