Somewhere a member of the Boston Pride is still celebrating their Isobel Cup title. The Pride won their second consecutive Isobel Cup as PHF champions defeating the Connecticut Whale 4-2 this week.
While the celebration is ongoing, the Premier Hockey Federation is about to get back to work, embarking on the most important, and perhaps busiest offseason in league history.
Notably, the PHF has to fill their commissioner role, which is now vacant from Ty Tumminia leaving the position. Tumminia made the announcement in February that she would step away from the role following the Isobel Cup playoffs.
In January, the PHFPA also parted ways with Alex Sinatra, who had been hired as executive director of the players’ association. The league has hired Nicole Corriero, a Harvard graduate and lawyer to fill this role. Corriero was a three-time All-American with Harvard, where she served as captain in her senior year.
Perhaps the most notable work to be done this offseason, however, will come in the form of expansion. While the league announced that two new franchises would be added to the league for the 2022-2023 season, sources within the league have hinted that only one new franchise might be added in time for next season.
That city is believed to be Montreal.
“Montreal has been at the top of our priority list for the last couple of years, for obvious reasons,” John Boynton, the chairman of the PHF Board of Governors said in January. “You’d normally want to get there as soon as possible. And so it will happen next season. Montreal is obviously one of the best, most important hockey markets in North America and the PHF absolutely has to be there.”
Boynton would know, as he owns the expansion rights to a Montreal franchise.
Boynton however, has come under fire in recent weeks due to his role as the chairman of Yandex, Russia’s largest technology company, which has been tied to suppressing information and spreading propaganda related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
While Montreal remains the targeted expansion destination for the PHF heading into next season, no official announcement has been made.
A second expansion franchise was originally planned with the league targeting another market in the United States. Detroit had been a rumoured location, although whether a franchise can be in place in time for next season is yet to be seen.
Following the announcement of a $25-million investment from owners into the league, next season will also mark the PHF’s first season with a $750,000 salary cap per team. Teams will also now offer health benefits to players.
Although all of the above is within the control of the PHF, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) has also announced their intent to move forward with a professional league of their own. The PHF and PWHPA met this month, a meeting which the PHF called “constructive,” however no other information, including topics discussed, was divulged.
If the PWHPA, which has the support of 11 NHL franchises for their league chooses to begin formal play next season, the PHF may wait to announce their second expansion franchise to avoid competing in the same market.
With a draft, and potential expansion on the plate without a commissioner to guide the league, the PHF has work to do. With the success of the 2022 Isobel Cup, and growth in interest across the league however, prospects for the sustainable success of the league remain positive.