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PWHL board member: Launching league in six months is ‘nuts’

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Sarah Nurse is all smiles on the first day of practice for the new Toronto PWHL team. (R.J. Johnston Toronto Star/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

From start to finish, the Professional Women’s Hockey League is aiming for a six-month launch, which is quick. And the expected January 2024 start date is quickly approaching.

“Doing this in six months is nuts,” PWHL Advisory Board member Stan Kasten told The Athletic. “The NHL told me I was going to need more time and they were completely correct.”

That means that some things will have to fall by the wayside in the first year in favor of getting the players on the ice – including team names and logos. Jerseys for this year only have the team colors and city names diagonally across the chest. It’s been a point of contention for many fans on social media.

But to the league, team names weren’t worth slowing the process down.

“There are decisions you can make that are fast and if you make an error in your judgment on that decision, it’s easy to walk back, or you can learn from it and move on,” Amy Scheer, the senior vice president of business operations for the PWHL, told The Athletic. “From the team name perspective, it was just better off slowing the process down.

“When you come out with a team name, you want to have a full brand story, why the imagery and the logo, why the colors, why the name. And I just didn’t feel that we should rush it because you can’t walk back from it.”

In MLB, Kasten says, jerseys take about two years to produce. In the NHL, teams are sent a “uniform change form” every year in April asking for any changes in uniforms. From start to finish, that is an 18-month process.

So naturally, there wasn’t enough time to come up with an entire branding strategy, avoid name trademarks, and have jerseys to match in the time that the PWHL wanted to launch.

“In a normal team or league, this is a two-year process,” Scheer said. “Just getting the design is six to eight months. The actual manufacturing takes over a year.”

“Things would be prettier, more perfect if we had waited a year,” Kasten said. “But what was most important was getting a league up and running for all these women who had been waiting for this day for so long.”