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PHF announces historic $25 million investment in players

The Boston Pride and Toronto Six meet in the semifinals of the 2021 Isobel Cup playoffs in March. (Michelle Jay/NWHL)

The Premier Hockey Federation’s Board of Governors has committed over $25 million in direct payments and benefits to its players over the next three years, the league announced Tuesday. As a result, the PHF’s salary cap will increase by 150 percent next season, from $300,000 to $750,000.

The pledge represents the largest one-time independent investment in the history of professional women’s hockey.

“The PHF has been steadfast in its vision to grow the game under a new era that truly provides leading opportunities for athletes in the sport who deserve to be treated as professionals,” said PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “This amazing investment by ownership reaffirms the strength of their commitment to being difference-makers who advance the professional game so that our athletes can thrive as role models who continue to inspire the next generation.”

The investment includes direct cash to players, full healthcare benefits provided by the clubs and equity in the teams, beginning with a $7.5 million pledge for the 2022-23 season. The PHF also aims to support its athletes through league expansion, facility upgrades, new equipment and more ice time through an increase in practices and an expanded 28-game schedule.

In addition to the salary cap increase, players will have 10 percent equity in each member team. The contributions will aggregate in an investment pool owned by the players, allowing them to share in the league’s financial success. Players will also be able to profit off of their own image and likeness.

The league will also aim to expand teams, beginning with a seventh team in Montreal.

“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, Chairman of the 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.”

The PHF has undergone major changes over the last 18 months, including a rebrand and a transition from a single-entity structure to a joint venture model. As a result, all six member clubs are now owned and operated by private ownership groups.

The league has also expanded its broadcast and corporate partnerships, most notably signing an agreement with ESPN+ in October that made all PHF games available to stream in the United States.

Earlier this month, the players’ association announced the hire of Alex Sinatra as executive director.