PHF Playoff Preview: Isobel Cup Final
Previewing the 2023 Isobel Cup Final between the Premier Hockey Federation's Minnesota Whitecaps & Toronto Six.
The Premier Hockey Federation has introduced Reagan Carey as its new commissioner, while Digit Murphy has been hired as President of the Metropolitan Riveters alongside a number of other personnel changes.
Here's what's new, what's not, and what could be:
The PHF has named Reagan Carey as the third commissioner in league history, following the departure of Ty Tumminia at season's end. Carey served as USA Hockey's director of women's hockey from 2010-18, stepping down just over a week before the Four Nations tournament. She was also on the CWHL's Board of Directors and recruited Digit Murphy to coach the Boston Blades at the time.
Carey said the PHF reached out to her about the commissioner position. She's only been in the position for a few days, but has spoken with several players as well as the PHFPA's head.
"I have always and will continue to support the players," she said. "There are players that are playing in the PHF that are doing a tremendous job. There are players that are pursuing other directions and I support all of it. Everybody has the same intention to make the game better."
Carey worked with Dani Rylan throughout her time at USA Hockey and has had recent conversations with Tumminia.
"I look forward to leveraging the experience that's already been here to make sure we're headed in the right direction," she said.
The Ice Garden reported earlier this month that Digit Murphy has been hired as the President of the Metropolitan Riveters; players and staff found out after that report. Although no official announcement has come from the PHF, Murphy was quoted in a recent league media release with her position noted as Riveters President.
Based on a recent episode of The Jeff Marek Show, Murphy may still be acting as President of the Six at this time. Per owner Anthony Stewart on the April 4 podcast, Murphy was already recruiting players for next season.
I'll have more to come on this, including details about the fallout of Murphy's hiring, as multiple staffers & volunteers have resigned. (Murphy was previously associated with the transphobic Women's Sports Policy Working Group, for which she has officially apologized.) She is currently listed on BTM Partners' website as Senior Vice President. BTM Partners owns the Riveters & Pride, and still list the Six on their website despite reportedly selling them to a new ownership group. (The sale is seemingly not finalized yet.)
Also recently added to the BTM Partners website is a new partner: Bryant McBride. McBride is a former NHLPA agent was decertified in 2004 after sharing confidential information with a member of the media.
Anya Packer, former player and NWHLPA head, announced her decision not to renew her contract as Riveters general manager two days after The Ice Garden's report about Murphy's hiring.
In her farewell Tweets, Packer highlighted some of the team's accomplishment's during her tenure as GM, including a rebrand and multiple charitable activations.
Possibly relevant observation: Madison Packer no longer lists the Riveters in her Twitter bio. It's not out of the question that she could sign with another PHF team and be a valuable player on the free agency market; she has served as captain of the Riveters since 2019 and is the second-highest-scoring player in PHF history.
Jay Forster reports that Tori Charron, who played for the Six last season, will be the new Riveters' GM.
This is has not been officially confirmed, but I have heard that Six GM Krysti Clarke has been "reassigned" within the Toronto Six organization, and that Mark Joslin was relieved of his head coaching duties before Murphy's move to the Riveters. Angela James will reportedly be the team's new general manager.
Outside of Toronto, there may be other changes within the PHF. Unconfirmed reports indicate that Jack Brodt is out of the Minnesota Whitecaps organization. Additionally, Danielle Larouco, who served as GM of the Boston Pride this past season, is no longer listed on that team's respective website.
Katie Gardner is also no longer with the PHF after serving as Vice President of Business Strategy & Marketing since May 2021. Before that, she served as the league's marketing director. Gardner works full time as Director of Digital Marketing for Pure Hockey.
The PHF doesn't generally announce firings or departures, so it's likely that we may not find out any of this officially until replacements are named.
Nicole Corriero, a former Harvard hockey player, was elected Executive Director of the PHF's Players' Association. Corriero was inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club's Hall of Fame in the Class of 2020. Johanna Boynton, a PHF board member and team owner, is President of the Harvard Varsity Club.
Corriero is currently practicing as a personal injury attorney in Toronto; it's unclear at this time if she has any background with labor law.
The PHF recently announced that teams have the exclusive right to re-sign any of their players from the 2021-22 season up until April 30. Unrestricted free agency begins May 1. There will be no entry draft or international draft.
As previously announced, the salary cap will be $750,000 per team. Teams will be required to meet a floor of 75% of the cap, which is $562,500. According to PHF Senior Vice President of Communications Paul Krotz in a statement to On Her Turf's Alex Azzi, individual minimum salaries will be $13,500 in order to accommodate players who may not be able to or wish to play full-time.
Players will be allowed to sign two-year deals, a first for the PHF, and may receive signing bonuses up to 10 percent of their total contract value. The new player contract includes full medical coverage from Aetna plus dental & vision coverage through MetLife, with all premiums paid with no player deductible. Players can add spouses & children to their policies, which also offer parental leave benefits.
In addition, the PHF announced a player equity incentive award that will allow players to share in "value appreciation of the PHF with greater consideration to players based on the number of the years they have played." Championship bonuses for winning the Isobel Cup have increased 250 percent; previously $500, this would make them worth $1,250.
Improvements to policies for meals & stipends for away trips were also indicated by the PHF, but no details have been provided. Last season, players received $25 USD for each calendar day on the road, and received one meal after each away game and breakfast following any overnight stay.
It's still unclear at this time if the PHF's planned two-team expansion will happen for the 2022-23 season. At this point, quite frankly, they're running out of time. It isn't fair to players – or to teams – to begin any sort of free agent period unless everyone is made fully aware of their options. (The PHF's free agent registration site lists only the six existing teams.)
Related to some of the aforementioned topics, I sent a list of questions to the PHF on April 13. That email has thus far gone unacknowledged:
We also asked about next season's salary cap/salary floor, the draft/free agency, and the commissioner search, but the league has since hired Reagan Carey, and other questions were answered in the PHF's April 20th media release.
In the meantime, I'll highly recommend reading Alex Azzi's recent piece for On Her Turf, where she spoke with John Boynton – chairman of the PHF's Board of Governors – about a myriad of topics. Some of Boynton's answers are certainly... eye-opening, to say the least.
(Photo: Michelle Jay/PHF)