In the month since our last article about the Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL), there's been announcements, rumors, discourse, and discussion galore.
This article will catch you up on what's been happening since the draft, including today's news about possible team names, and what still needs to happen before puck drop in January.
On October 11, the PWHL announced a partnership with several North American minor and junior leagues to found the Respect Hockey Cultural Center (RHCC), described as "a centralized platform which provides access for players, coaches, and employees to confidentially receive mental health support services and to report on incidents of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination."
The RHCC was founded in partnership with the American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL, and United States Hockey League (USHL) as well as all three Canadian Hockey League (CHL) leagues: the Western Hockey League (WHL), Ontario Hockey League (OHL), and Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
According to Jayna Hefford, the PWHL's Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, the RHCC will provide "resources and support for athletes and staff to eradicate bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination from our game."
Mental health support will be provided by the Canadian Centre for Mental Health in Sport due to a grant made by the National Hockey League (NHL).
The third-party operator of the RHCC is the REES Community, whose acronym means "Respect, Educate, Empower Survivors." The trauma-informed online reporting and information platform will commence operation of the RHCC during the 2023-2024 season.
Next year, many of the PWHL's players will sport equipment made by CCM Hockey, as the company announced on October 13 that they had become a "full hockey equipment supplier and official partner" of the PWHL.
CCM is the PWHL's second partner after Canadian Tire Corporation. The company will provide helmets, protective gear, skates, and sticks for PWHL players. However, a league source informed The Athletic's Hailey Salvian that Bauer will also be a official partner and equipment supplier, and that players will still be allowed to use equipment from new or existing endorsements.
According to Catherine Ward, CCM's Vice-President Product Commercialization & Innovation, "CCM is dedicated to delivering the best products in the industry to every player in the game, no matter their age or gender." She also said that CCM is developing (or has developed) "hockey's first head-to-toe line of equipment built for women."
Some of the PWHL's most well-known stars — including Kendall Coyne Schofield and Taylor Heise — already use CCM gear.
CCM also provided equipment for the 2022-2023 season of the PWHL's precursor, the Professional Women's Hockey Player's Association (PWHPA).
On October 16, the PWHL announced rosters for its first training camps, which will begin on November 15 in all six markets.
Teams selected a total of 185 players comprising 18 pre-draft free agents, 88 draftees, and 79 undrafted free agents. Just after the original version of the press release was posted, Minnesota added forward Brooke Bryant as an additional invitee.
Two drafted players — Boston's Tatum Skaggs and Minnesota's Minttu Tuominen — will not be reporting to camp.
Each team is permitted to invite between 28 and 35 players to camp, a number which will be reduced, first to 27 by November 29, then to 23 (plus two reserve players) by December 11.
All rosters are still subject to change according to the PWHL.
We will be providing more detailed analysis of the training camp rosters in the coming weeks.
During a routine check of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s TESS system, DetroitHockey.net’s Clark Rasmussen found trademark filings by PWHL Holdings, LLC for a new logo, a wide, sans-serif "W" that contains the visual elements of a faceoff.
A few days later on October 20, the PWHL tweeted a list of six players — Boston’s Hilary Knight, Minnesota’s Kendall Coyne Schofield, Montreal’s Laura Stacey, New York’s Abby Roque, Ottawa’s Brianne Jenner, and Toronto's Blayre Turnbull. One by one, each of the players made social media posts revealing one piece of the logo.
On October 24, the PWHL revealed the full logo, which was made by Baltimore creative studio Younts Design Inc., whose clients include multiple Major League Baseball (MLB) teams.
Just two days later, the WoHo community was rocked once more by another trademark filing discovery, again made by DetroitHockey.net's Clark Rasmussen.
PWHL Holdings, Inc. filed trademarks on October 25 for six possible team names:
- Toronto Torch
- Montreal Echo
- Ottawa Alert
- Minnesota Superior
- Boston Wicked
- New York Sound
While social media largely hasn't responded kindly to the names, it's still possible that these won't be used, like when the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights trademarked several names it didn't end up using. The Ottawa Alert name appears to be an homage to the Ottawa Alerts, a women's hockey team that formed in the Canadian capital around 1915.
Hiring and signing
On October 26, the first two signings out of the draft were announced, as first overall pick Taylor Heise officially inked a contract with Minnesota, and Ottawa signed forward Lexie Adzija.
Contract terms are not currently being disclosed.
Meanwhile, three teams have announced some additional coaching staff:
- PWHL Boston announced the hiring of Stefanie McKeough as an assistant coach, joining Courtney Kessel's staff. McKeough previously served as an assistant coach with the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.
- PWHL Ottawa announced Haley Irwin, Cassea Schols, and Pierre Groulx as assistant coaches serving under Carla MacLeod. Former Canadian national team forward Irwin comes from the Ryerson Rams program, where she was an assistant coach. Schols is the video coach with the Czechia senior women's national team, also headed by MacLeod. Groulx comes from the NHL's Ottawa Senators, where he was a longtime goaltending coach and has been a scout for the last two seasons.
- PWHL Minnesota has hired assistant coaches Jake Bobrowski and Mira Jalosuo to join Charlie Burggraf's coaching staff. Bobrowski served as a head coach last season at Elmira College in New York with the school's DIII women's program; he also spent one season (2021-22) as an assistant with the University of Minnesota. Jalosuo is a former Minnesota Whitecap and Finnish national team defender who last served as an assistant coach with St. Cloud State.
The PWHL also announced Amy Scheer as Senior Vice President of Business Operations. Scheer is a former general manager of the PHF's Connecticut Whale and has held other Vice President positions with the WNBA's Connecticut Sun and New York Liberty as well as in Major League Soccer with NYCFC and the New York Red Bulls. Her most recent position is in club business development with the NFL.
So far, these are the league level staff that have been confirmed:
Even after a draft, two free agencies, and a training camp, the PWHL still needs to officially announce their schedule as well as team names, logos, and facilities for each of its teams. While home rinks and practice facilities have reportedly been chosen for each of six teams, these have not yet been officially confirmed by the PWHL.
The PWHL's staff is still operating remotely while they look for a permanent residence for the business and hockey operations sides of the company.
The small PWHL team has continued to release promotional content like The Day We Dreamed Of, a 13-minute mini-documentary about the inaugural 2023 PWHL Draft featuring draftees Erin Ambrose, Taylor Heise, Sophie Jaques, and Alina Müller, as well as Billie Jean King, and Jayna Hefford.
As PWHL advisory board member Stan Kasten told CBC's Karissa Donkin on October 13, creating an entire sports league and six teams in just six months is a comically large task. There is a lot that needs to be done between now and January – and between now and training camp. We'll keep you updated.