Los Angeles Dodgers controlling owner Mark Walter is consolidating the top women’s professional hockey in North America into a new, unified league with substantial support from the NHL.
For the past several years, two entities had been vying for premier status after top players broke away from the Premier Hockey Federation — formally the National Women’s Hockey League — and formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association.
The Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises had been supporting PWHPA efforts that included event collaborations with NHL teams. The PHF boosted teams’ salary cap to $1.5 million this past season, had a media rights deal with ESPN, and also worked with NHL teams.
Now, Walter and his wife Kimbra have acquired the PHF and will shutter that league’s operations, preparing to fund and launch a new unified women’s hockey league in January 2024. Board members will include King, her wife, former tennis star Ilana Kloss, and Dodgers President Stan Kasten.
The NHL told Front Office Sports it congratulates the PWHPA and PHF on their agreement.
“We already have initiated discussions with representatives of this unified group regarding how we can work together to continue to grow the women’s game,” a league spokesperson told FOS.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had long stated his desire for a unified women’s game that the league can support rather than choosing from multiple entities. The development will bring PWHPA stars like Team USA’s Hilary Knight together with PHF standouts including MVP Loren Gabel and many other international players.
Financial details of the acquisition are not available, but the deal will void current PHF contracts — some in the six figures — and provide a minimum salary of $35,000 through 2031, according to the Associated Press.