Jessica Campbell will break the AHL’s coaching gender barrier next season when she steps behind the bench with the Coachella Valley Firebirds.
After a meeting last month between the PWHPA and PHF, fans and analysts speculated about the direction of professional women’s hockey in North America.
Following a recent meeting of the PWHPA’s board, that direction has become clearer.
”The PWHPA’s board has voted unanimously to end any further discussions about collaborating with the PHF,” The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian stated regarding the PWHPA’s position.
Per Salvian’s article, one of the contributing issues in the PWHPA’s decision related to the PHF’s Chairman of the Board, John Boynton. Boynton has been criticized for holding the same chairman role for Russia’s Yandex. Yandex is Russia’s largest technology company and has been tied to the ongoing suppression of information, and spreading of propaganda related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Not only is Boynton the Chairman of the PHF’s Board, he also owns the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters, two of the league’s six teams, and reportedly owns the expansion rights to a Montreal franchise.
It’s believed Boynton will be an issue when it comes to attracting major sponsors moving forward.
According to Salvian, PWHPA concerns related to the PHF also included “funding and the lack of a convincing business model.”
With the decision, the PHF will continue independently, with eyes on off-season expansion, while the PWHPA continues to take their own steps toward a separate professional women’s hockey league in North America.
The PHF does have several unanswered questions to solve this summer, namely, hiring a new commissioner and founding two promised expansion franchises. While Montreal is believed to be the first location, another has not been announced.
Both leagues have openly stated shared goals of health benefits, upgraded facilities, training support, and primarily, improved salaries allowing players to live solely as professional hockey players without needing secondary jobs to supplement income. While the PHF called the March meeting between the two entities and the NHL “constructive,” the gaps in how to achieve these shared goals could not be bridged.
While no formal plans have been announced by the PWHPA for next season, the group reportedly has the support of 11 NHL franchises independent of league support to move forward. Next season, this could manifest in a larger scale tour as the PWHPA has operated in recent seasons.
In the meantime, the PHF remains the only formal professional women’s hockey league in North America.