Hockey legend Angela James did not mince words when discussing the current state of women’s professional hockey in North America.
James, who is an assistant coach, and soon to be part-owner of the Premier Hockey Federation’s (PHF) Toronto Six, wrote a social media post about the ongoing struggle to maintain a single professional women’s hockey league.
In the post, James called the current situation “petty teeter tottering by both the PWHPA and PHF” and said that she has “observed the womens elite game torn apart.”
The statement comes in the wake of recent comments from members of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) alluding to the fact the organization, which houses most of the USA and Canadian women’s national team players will soon be forming their own professional league.
This is despite the fact the PHF is already operating a professional hockey league for women, and recently announced a $25-million investment by owners and plans to add two expansion teams next season. James believes the PHF is already sustainable, and the PWHPA’s interests are for a small group of players, not women’s hockey as a whole.
“I am so disappointed in the PWHPA,” James wrote. “Who’s interest are you protecting? It isn’t the interest of the non national team players that have supported your association for 3 years now without playing a league game. Their careers have passed by now and you want another group of women elite players to follow you while you claim to make a sustainable league.”
The PWHPA had stated they would not join the PHF until certain needs were met including health care, professional infrastructure, and a liveable wage allowing women to work and train solely as hockey players.
According to James, those needs have already been achieved by the PHF.
“They have already agreed to everything on the PWHPA wish list to my knowledge and still not good enough,” James continued. “How about combining your resources for the better of the game and everyone set aside their egos?
James, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and won four World Championship gold medals with Team Canada listed many new additions and securities being offered by the PHF to players as a sign that the needs of the PWHPA had been met.
These included expansion, a salary cap of $750,000 for next season, health benefits, improved facilities, and increased practice time.
The PHF is a rebranding of the NWHL, while the PWHPA features many players from the now-defunct CWHL. The two groups have remained largely separate in recent years, which according to James needs to end for the betterment of women’s hockey.
“Why can’t you work out these differences instead of suppressing and handcuffing the elite athletes in the progress of the pro game already made. Women’s hockey is bigger then the PHF and the PWHPA, together we can make history,” she wrote.
“The best women players in the game deserve to be competing at a pro level in ONE league.”
The PHF is set to conclude their regular-season schedule on March 20 before beginning the Isobel Cup playoffs.