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Volume 26 No. 7
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Women's Hockey Sees WNBA As Model For NHL-Backed League

Women's hockey has grown in popularity with thrilling Olympic games and increased youth participation

Those who believe the NHL's involvement in a women's professional hockey league is key to its success think the WNBA model is "what women in hockey aspire to," according to Seth Berkman of the N.Y. TIMES. Gold Medal-winning U.S. hockey player Monique Lamoureux-Morando said the WNBA is a "great example of what could be.” In '10, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hired former WNBA President Val Ackerman to write a report on the state of women’s hockey. Ackerman concluded that a women’s hockey league was similar to the WNBA and "not viable at the time." But "thrilling Olympic Games and rising numbers of girls and women playing the sport have convinced Ackerman" that women’s hockey with the NHL’s backing today "would be 'a no-brainer.'" Now Big East commissioner, Ackerman said, “It will likely be nonprofitable because the audience is small and needs to grow. So it will take time, but that’s all the more an organization like the NHL, which has deep pockets, would be best to take it on." The NHL and "influential hockey bodies had an opportunity to elevate the women’s game" after the '18 Pyeongchang Games "generated widespread excitement, but the promised support has been slow to develop." Ackerman said that it "would be a mistake to wait" for the '22 Beijing Games and estimated that a WNHL "could be started in a year" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/24).

HAMMERING THINGS OUT: The AP noted the NWHL is "increasing salaries, offering a 50-50 split of sponsor-related revenues and improved benefits in an agreement" reached with the league's players' union. The union "did not release any specific monetary figures in announcing the agreement Thursday." It is a "one-year deal with the five-team NWHL holding the option to renew it the following season." As for the revenue-sharing split of money received from league sponsors, it will "kick in when the league meets its operating expenses." The NWHL is privately run and backed by investors, and "has not revealed its financial picture." The deal also "provides increases to travel and meal costs over a 24-game regular season" (AP, 5/23).