The National Women’s Hockey League is almost at the midway point of their inaugural season. The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey league, starting their inaugural season with four teams all located in the northeast region of the United States.
The four-teams located in New York City, Buffalo, Connecticut and Boston will each play an 18-game schedule (9 home, 9 away) and participate in two practices per week. The teams are owned by the league and per the league this will not change during year one.
The league does not have a .com domain instead calling NWHL.co their home on the web, which I found very interesting. The .co domain is a rather new domain, debuting in 2010, for ‘companies’. In year one, the NWHL has made an impact by signing their first corporate sponsor, Dunkin Donuts. Accessibility of games is important especially in the infancy of any league, and making their games available for free on YouTube, and providing a free archive provides the league a platform to promote their product to potential new fans.
The Boston Pride was the first team to secure a television deal, striking an agreement with the New England Sports Network (NESN), home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Red Sox, for 8 games. Boston was able to then sign another agreement with ESPN to air games on ESPN3, the ESPN digital platform. The broadcast successes of the Pride can be attributed to the venue, Alexander C. Bright Hockey Center at Harvard. Harvard University has heavily-invested in their athletics broadcasting infrastructure, which allows the Pride to take advantage of the venue they are playing in to maximize their broadcast exposure.
The league has been very transparent by posting their player salaries for public viewing on their website. The salary cap for year one is $270,000, and all teams are within $10,000 of that cap. The maximum player salary is $25,000 and only earned by one player in the league this season,Kelli Stack of Connecticut. The minimum player salary is $10,000 earned by 16 of the 72 reported player salaries is the most common denomination earned by a NWHL player this season. The average salary is just under $15,000 for the year and the median salary is $14,500.
I look forward to continuing to follow the growth of the league and hopefully it is able to provide a stable, professional women’s ice hockey league that spreads the popularity of the sport amongst men and women around the globe.