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PHF 2022 timeline: From $25 million investment to Riveters’ upheaval

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Premier Hockey Federation announced a $25 million investment in January, which dropped the puck on a roller-coaster year for the women’s professional league.

While the Boston Pride were busy winning their third Isobel Cup, the league and its players association saw key departures, and competitor PWHPA is planning to form its own league in 2023.

Just Women’s Sports has brought all of the PHF’s news from 2022 together in one place to help you keep track as the league presses forward.

Tuesday, May 10 — Metropolitan Riveters announce signing of Olympic gold medalist Amanda Pelkey

On Tuesday, the Riveters announced the signing of Amanda Pelkey, a 2018 Olympic gold medalist with Team USA, to a one-year contract.

Pelkey had previously spent time with the Boston Pride before leaving the PHF — then the NWHL — in 2019 for the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association. Through 49 career NWHL games, she tallied 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) and won an Isobel Cup championship in her rookie year.

Monday, May 9 — Metropolitan Riveters name Venla Hovi as new head coach, Mikyla Grant-Mentis signs largest contract in PHF history

Former Finnish Olympian and Canadian Women’s Hockey League pro Venla Hovi was named head coach of the Metropolitan Riveters on Monday. She is the first European woman to serve as head coach of a PHF/NWHL franchise and the first woman head coach of the Riveters.

The news came as the team also announced that it had re-signed captain Madison Packer through the 2023-24 season.

Mikyla Grant-Mentis made headlines when it was announced that she would be returning to Buffalo on the biggest contract in PHF history. Grant-Mentis’ deal is worth $80,000.

Wednesday, May 4 — Melody Davidson named director of league and hockey operations

Melody Davidson, who helped lead Team Canada to four straight Winter Olympic gold medals as coach and general manager, was named the director of league and hockey operations.

Davidson will assist in operations and provide insight on the structure of the league and its regular season, playoffs and offseason.

Tuesday, April 26 – PHF announces Reagan Carey as new commissioner

Reagan Carey, former USA Hockey director of women’s ice hockey, has been named the new commissioner of the Premier Hockey Federation, the league announced Tuesday.

Serving in her position with USA Hockey from 2010 to 2018, the women’s national team took home silver at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and gold at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang during Carey’s tenure.

Carey officially will start as the PHF’s third commissioner on May 10.

Wednesday, April 20 – PHF forgoes draft, announces new free agency format

The PHF announced that in lieu of an entry draft, all eligible athletes will become available for free agency.

PHF teams reserve the right to re-sign any rostered players from the 2021-22 season up until April 30. Unrestricted free agency will begin on May 1.

With the salary cap set at $750,000 for each team, the floor will sit at $562,500, or 75 percent of the cap. For the first time in league history, players can sign two-year deals with teams and can receive signing bonuses.

Saturday, April 16 – PWHPA to form new, six-team league

The PWHPA is planning to form a six-team league featuring 23-player rosters, Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported. Players in the new league will have a base salary of $35,000, and the average salary will be $55,000 plus bonuses, per Marek. The inaugural season is slated to include 32 games and will run from January to April 2023.

Tuesday, April 13 – Anya Packer announces departure as Riveters general manager

Metropolitan Riveters general manager Anya Packer announced that she declined to renew her contract with the team.

Packer, who is married to Riveters captain Madison Packer, did not tie her departure to new president Digit Murphy’s arrival. But several other front office employees – including public relations staffers and the entire stats team – have reportedly departed the organization in the wake of Murphy’s appointment, according to The IX’s Anne Tokarski.

“Her coming aboard really really really made it hard to even think of staying,” former head of PR Jess Belmosto told The IX. “It made me sick even thinking of working under her knowing her beliefs and how she has treated employees in the past. I knew in my heart I couldn’t stick around. I can’t change her and never will.”

Tuesday, April 13 – PHF Players’ Association elects Nicole Corriero as executive director

The players’ association announced the appointment of former Harvard women’s captain Nicole Corriero as the fourth head of the association. She replaced Alex Sinatra, who spent just three weeks in the position.

Corriero works as an injury attorney in Toronto, specializing in sports injuries and negligence.

Monday, April 12 – PWHPA plans to move forward apart from PHF

The PWHPA informed the PHF that it would move forward separately from the existing league, The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian reported. The decision stemmed from concerns over funding and a “lack of a convincing business proposal.”

Also, the PHF’s ties to John Boynton, chairman of the PHF board of governors and an owner of the Boston Pride and Metropolitan Riveters, was a concern. Boynton is a chairman for Russian technology company Yandex, which has been tied to the ongoing suppression of information and spreading of propaganda in relation to the war.

Monday, April 11 – Digit Murphy tabbed as Riveters president

The Metropolitan Riveters plan to bring on Digit Murphy as the team president for the upcoming season, according to a report from The Ice Garden.

Murphy served as the president and director of player personnel for the Toronto Six for the last two seasons.

Despite a storied career as a player and coach, Murphy has faced criticism for her past association with the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group, which has come under fire for its views on transgender athletes.

Wednesday, March 24 – PWHPA, PHF discussions during meeting ‘constructive’

The NHL asked the PWHPA and PHF to come together in a meeting to talk about forming a joint league, and the leagues did so on the eve of the PHF playoffs.

While the PHF deemed the discussions “constructive,” the PWHPA reportedly remained confident in its ability to move forward without the PHF and the NHL.

The NHL repeatedly has said it would not support women’s hockey financially while there are two competing leagues.

Monday, March 7 – Toronto Six sold to new, minority-led ownership group

The PHF announced that the Toronto Six had been sold to the first BIPOC and Canadian investors in PHF history.

The group includes Angela James, Bernice Carnegie, former NHL forward Anthony Stewart and former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan.

James is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and remains the only Black player to serve as captain of the Canadian women’s national team. Carnegie launched the Carnegie Initiative, which aims to ensure inclusivity in the sport. Stewart is the chair of Hockey Equality. Nolan is a member of the First Nation’s Ojibwe tribe and was the NHL’s coach of the year in 1997.

Saturday, February 19 – Commissioner Tyler Tumminia announces resignation

PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia resigned from her position, a move that was “her decision, her terms,” ESPN reported. Tumminia remained with the league through the end of the postseason in late March.

The league’s second commissioner, Tumminia oversaw the rebranding of the league from the NWHL, a streaming deal with ESPN and a landmark investment from the PHF board of governors.

Friday, January 28 – PHF Players Association parts ways with executive director Alex Sinatra

The PHFPA announced that it had parted ways with executive director Alex Sinatra after just three weeks. The move came after players grew unhappy with Sinatra’s representation of them to owners and the media, The Ice Garden reported.

“My work and advocacy at the PA was always to advocate on behalf of the players with their best interests at heart,” Sinatra said via Twitter. “I was never told by players that any of the appearances, interviews, or conversations I had with anyone were not what the players wanted until Jan. 27th.”

The members of the PHFPA released their own official statement. “As players, we are dedicated to performing and representing ourselves and our teammates at the highest level on and off the ice for our fans, owners, and stakeholders,” they said in the statement.

Tuesday, January 18 – PHF announces historic $25 million investment in players

The PHF announced that its Board of Governors had committed more than $25 million in direct payments and benefits to its players over the next three years. Included in the investment is an increase in the salary cap from $300,000 to $750,000.

In addition to the salary increase, players also will receive full healthcare benefits. The announcement of the investment also promised league expansion, facilities upgrades and an expanded 28-game schedule.

“On behalf of the Board of Governors we are proud to play a part in bringing women’s sports to the next level by investing in the PHF,” said John Boynton, the chairman of the PHF board of governors. “We see the PHF as a platform to address the inequities that women athletes face. We also believe in the sustainability of our developing business model and embrace our responsibility to build a platform that grows this dynamic league to historic heights.”