New Toronto Six owner and hockey Hall of Fame member Angela James is hitting back at the PWHPA, accusing the league of stunting the development of women’s hockey over its refusal to combine forces.
The comments were originally posted on Facebook but later shared on Twitter by Toronto Six player Saroya Tinker.
A note from the Goat… Angela James’ thoughts on the @PHF & @PWHPA #food4thought #BetterTogether #facts pic.twitter.com/HSjx1tYPAh— Saroya Tinker (@saroyatinker71) March 6, 2022
A note from the Goat… Angela James’ thoughts on the @PHF & @PWHPA #food4thought #BetterTogether #facts pic.twitter.com/HSjx1tYPAh
“I do not have a political agenda here nor have I been a part of either league for the past 10 years,” James wrote. “I do know I coach in a professional pro competitive hockey league. Right now, I’m so disappointed in the PWHPA. Whose interest are you protecting? It isn’t the interest of the non-national team players that have supported your association for 3 years now without playing a league game.”
After highlighting the PHF’s recent $25 million investment by league owners and salary cap increases, James called out the PWHPA for their seeming lack of planning.
“I have yet to see a plan from the PWHPA or I would have included it,” she continued. “Why can’t you work out these differences instead of suppressing and handcuffing the elite athletes in the progress of the pro game already made.
“Women’s hockey is bigger than the PHF and the PWHPA, together we can make history. The best women players in the game deserve to be competing at the pro level in ONE league.”
James, who was the first and remains the only Black player to captain Canada’s National Women’s Team, has also been serving as an assistant coach for the Six during the current PHF season.
The PHF and PWHPA have been at odds since the PWHPA was formed in May of 2019. PWHPA members at the time did not like former commissioner and founder Dani Rylan Kearney’s management style. There were also concerns over the league’s financial shortfalls, with the league cutting players’ salaries by more than half just a month into its second season.
In forming the PWHPA, players hoped to create a more sustainable economic model that held more player support.
Over the past two weeks, that objective has come into greater focus as the league has reportedly been in talks with NHL teams and major corporate sponsors to form a new league within the next year.
As the PHF has gained increasing support and revamped itself, further questions have been raised after commissioner Tyler Tumminia resigned, citing personal reasons. The PHFPA also parted ways with its executive director after just three weeks.
According to James, the PHF has met all of the PWHPA’s demands to come together as one league.
“They have already agreed to everything on the PWHPA’s wish list to my knowledge and still not good enough,” James wrote. “How about combining your resources for the better of the game, and everyone set aside their egos?”
PWHPA advisor Liz Knox seemed to hit back at James’ comments on Twitter, writing: “Management, coaches, front office, (etc.) speaking on behalf of players’ experience instead of supporting the true voice of the players is exactly why the PWHPA was formed.”
The comments came days before the PHF officially announced on Monday the sale of the Toronto Six to a new ownership group. James is included amongst the group, which is led by retired NHL forward Anthony Stewart. Bernice Carnegie and Ted Nolan are also members of the ownership group.
They are the first BIPOC and Canadian investors in PHF history. Nolan is a member of the First Nation’s Ojibwe tribe and was the NHL’s coach of the year in the late ‘90s while Stewart, whose father is from Jamaica, is the chair of Hockey Equality.
“Together with my partners, we know how much representation matters and how important role models are for young hockey players,” said Stewart. “It brings me great joy to be part of something special and help strengthen a platform that will make the game better for the next generation and grow the game in the community that I love. We believe the PHF is well-positioned to become a leader in professional sports and look forward to continuing to build the Toronto Six into a winner on and off the ice.”