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

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox council calls on B.C. to defer old-growth logging, decriminalize illicit drugs

The motion is similar to a resolution passed by Courtenay council

A Hyundai Tucson caught fire around 11 a.m. Tuesday at 17th and Willemar. The occupants were not hurt. Scott Stanfield photo
Car catches fire in Courtenay

The occupants of a Hyundai Tucson were not injured when their car… Continue reading

A mother duck leads her brood of ducklings past some benches in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School in Courtenay. Photo by Kailena Krutzmann
Ducklings bring joy to students at Courtenay school

Brood of duckings in the courtyard at Mark R Isfeld School

The current location of Comox Valley Search and Rescue on Moray Avenue in Courtenay. Google Maps photo
Comox Valley Search and Rescue aiming to purchase a roof for their rescuers

Their goal is to raise between $1.2 and $1.5 million, approximately the purchase price of a facility

A bear is seen walking down Alderwood Place in east Courtenay Sunday (May 9) morning. Video screenshot/Kristie Cave
Video: Bears spotted throughout Comox Valley

Hide food sources, keep garbage away: conservation

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Most Read