Women's Hockey Leader Open To Aligning With NHL For League
The head of the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association said she is open to the idea of aligning with the NHL to support women's professional hockey in North America. Jayna Hefford spoke to THE DAILY just days after Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman floated a report this past weekend during a "Hockey Night in Canada" segment. Friedman said while Commissioner Gary Bettman would not get involved as long as the NWHL is operating, there is "word that the NHL is working on a women's league if the time ever becomes necessary." He alluded to possibly six teams, "maybe two in Canada" during the "Headlines" segment. Though the PWHPA's Hefford said she had not personally seen the type of plan Friedman described, what he presented is something she and the group of women boycotting pro hockey would be potentially looking for in a league. "Sort of a six-team-ish league, similar to the Original Six," she said. "Probably in the northeast or those strong hockey markets that are drivable potentially."
A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS: Hefford pointed to the NBA's investment in the WNBA and U.S. Soccer's involvement with the NWSL as two examples of how men's pro leagues have supported women's leagues in North America. She also said that an individual or a group of investors "giving us $20 million" to start a pro league "may not be sustainable in the long-term." Hefford: "History shows that the only way that women's professional sports leagues have survived is when they've been aligned with established men's leagues. ... Aligning with the NHL is the best opportunity for us to succeed." The PWHPA's Dream Gap Tour, which began this fall as a multi-city exhibition showcase, will return in the early part of '20, Hefford said, with more details being announced in the coming weeks. The NHL declined comment.