(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For Mikyla Grant-Mentis, her record-breaking hockey deal means no more early morning shifts at FedEx.

Last season, while playing for the Premier Hockey Federation’s Toronto Six, Grant-Mentis would wake up at 5 a.m. to work for the shipping company. From there, she would attend team practices, workouts with teammates and workouts with her personal trainer.

Now that her one-year, $80,000 contract with the Buffalo Beauts made her the highest-paid professional women’s hockey player in history, she can leave that grinding schedule behind.

“I’ll be able to put more time into hockey, working out, and taking care of my body. I think it’s just going to be easier for me to perform with this money,” she told SportsNet. “And I hope everyone can have this opportunity, where they don’t have to work, where they’re just able to play hockey.”

The 2020-21 league MVP also told SportsNet that she didn’t realize the landmark status of her deal until it hit the headlines.

“I don’t think I really knew that all this would come about from it. I honestly had no idea when I was signing,” she said. “Someone posted it on Twitter and that was when I found out. I was like, ‘Oh snap, I didn’t even know that,’ to be honest. It kind of just blew up after that. And then when Buffalo did announce it, it just got even crazier.”

The decision to leave Toronto for Buffalo was tough for Grant-Mentis. She grew up near Toronto, but the Beauts signed her to her first pro contract in 2020. Ultimately, the chance to return to the Beauts – with a landmark contract to boot – was too good to pass up.

“My career started in Buffalo and I basically got paid nothing because I was coming out of college and wasn’t able to,” she said. “And now I’m the most paid in the league. It’s kind of surreal to think that, just in four years, that was able to happen.”

But Grant-Mentis recognizes the position that the contract puts her in, and the work that still needs to be done to move women’s hockey forward.

“Not many people will get to do this, and I’m glad I’m the first one to get it. But there’s so much more that we need to do, to make sure this is the minimum,” she said. “That this is not even talked about anymore, because we’re all making way more than this.

“So, I mean, I feel good. But there’s still so much work for women’s hockey to do to make sure everyone’s making the same.”