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The Future of Women's Hockey

Photo via (Curtis Martin)

By: Kayla Jackson

The NHL stands for National Hockey League. There are tons of female hockey players nationally, but they are not given the same opportunities when it comes to playing professional hockey as males. The NHL consists of 32 teams and all male hockey players.

After female hockey players age out of playing at a junior level, there aren't too many options to move forward and progress their professional careers in hockey outside of the Olympics.

The Premier Hockey Federation, which was formally known as the National Women's Hockey League, is one of the only professional leagues for women with 175 players and only six teams, Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and the Toronto Six. The League is the first and only woman's league to pay the players.

Women players want the NHL to pick up and own a woman's professional league, The NBA did it with the WNBA. Soccer leagues in Europe and the U.S. have already done it.

It's all about national demand, there needs to be support and evidence that there will be money made and right now the NHL is worried that this isn't the case. The NHL is worried there isn’t enough demand in broadcasting for women's hockey, and people won't watch it like the NHL resulting in loss of money.

According to ESPN, the players who formed the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association (PWHPA) decided to fight in hopes of something larger. The PWHPA was hoping this would be temporary, but the pro league they desire has yet to become official.

In an interview with Global News, Hockey Hall of Fame member Jayna Hefford said, "Every young girl deserves to have the same visible hockey role models as every young boy.”

U.S. national team member Brianna Decker said: “We want the NHL to step in and be like, `We’re going to support your league.’ We want that and we wish it was that easy.”

Women might be one step closer to fulfilling all young girls dream to play professional hockey, according to Sportsnet there has been ongoing talks with selective NHL teams and major sponsors recently. There is still yet to be a timeline on when this league will be made or if it will be made or become official, but this is one step in a good direction, but it can’t stop here.

Young girls growing up should be able to turn on the TV and find a professional women's hockey game as easily as they can find an NHL game. The NHL has given resources to current women leagues in the past but stopped funding pro women’s leagues after COVID-19 but never stopped their support.

It's now up to the people: the fans, the young athletes who dream of playing hockey professionally one day, the NHL teams and sponsors to make this happen.

We need to fight for funding and the only way this can happen is to prove that the fan base is big enough to make a profit and support the league.


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