Half of the National Women’s Hockey League’s teams are now privately owned.
In approving the sale of the Connecticut Whale to Shared Hockey Enterprises, a group of investors led by Tobin Kelly, the league is well on its way to accomplishing its goals. The move follows the NWHL’s announcement that the league’s salary cap will be doubled for the upcoming season.
“It has been our goal since transitioning to a joint venture model in October to find strong ownership groups who believe in the NWHL and recognize the growth potential for the league and professional women’s hockey,” said NWHL Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “Tobin’s commitment to supporting our athletes, building community partnerships, and enhancing the fan experience represents another significant milestone in league history as we prepare for our seventh season.”
Kelly, a Needham, Massachusetts native, has strong ties to the hockey community. He is the founder of Arc Hockey, an equipment and apparel company, and established the Youth Pond Hockey Festival, the largest outdoor youth tournament in the United States.
Kelly has also coached girls and women at the youth and high school levels.
“All of us who have established SHE are excited to continue the amazing growth made by the NWHL and to fulfill the NWHL’s goal of providing the opportunity for elite women athletes to earn a living wage playing the sport they love,” said Kelly. “Finalizing the purchase of the Whale with my co-investors is the culmination of a dream that I have held for decades. I am excited to get to work with the Whale players and staff to continue their great work and bring new resources to growing the Whale’s presence in Connecticut.”
One of the four founding teams to play in the NWHL’s inaugural 2015-16 season, the Whales advanced to the Isobel Cup Playoffs in the COVID-shortened 2021 season, where they lost to the Minnesota Whitecaps in the semis.