Players from the Premier Hockey Federation and the PWHPA were informed Thursday night that Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group have bought out the PHF, according to multiple sources.
Neither the PHF nor the PWHPA have released any statements or official information yet. Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group previously signed a letter of intent with the PWHPA last May, to explore options for a potential new league.
While there are a lot of questions right now, here's what we do know:
The news came as a surprise to both groups, with players on both sides informed via group calls at the same time the news broke publicly on social media. It "came as quite a shock," said one source from the PWHPA, who confirmed that it is a straight buyout. I've also heard that the call with PHF players felt like a company call where employees are told about massive layoffs, with talks of "player support groups" and directing players to who can answer their questions about contracts, visas and the like.
PHF player contracts have been voided. If you've been around for a while, you know that we've been keeping a signing tracker of all 120+ player signings that have been announced by the PHF for the upcoming season. Now, all of those contracts are void. Legally, this makes sense, as an acquisition would indicate that the new ownership would want to negotiate their own contracts. In additional, the PWHPA has reportedly been finalizing a CBA which would play a role going forward.
The season is expected to start in early 2024, with likely six teams in place. It would presumably run up until just before the IIHF Women's World Championships. It's unclear where those teams will be located, or if any of the home cities of the PHF teams could still host teams. Reports suggest that the new league will have six teams and some rumors have indicated that the teams will occupy existing PHF markets. Expect Jayna Hefford and Reagan Carey to both have leadership roles in the new league. Otherwise, it's unclear what lies ahead for coaches, general managers, and other team and league staff, some of who are full-time.
Here's what we don't know: everything else. Why would the PHF Board of Governors and/or team owners agree to sell? What's the price tag? What happens to PHF players who rely on their contracts for their visa? How long has this been in the works? (PHF teams have been announcing signings as recently as Wednesday.)
This is a developing story & will be updated as we are able to confirm more details.