PWHPA executive endorses Philly as possible destination for new league

(Justin Berl/Getty Images)

A Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association executive endorsed Philadelphia as a possible destination for the PWHPA’s planned league, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday.

The PWHPA is aiming to start a six-team league in North America next year. PWHPA chair and lead operations consultant Jayna Hefford confirmed those plans and discussed Philadelphia’s viability as a home for one of the teams.

“If all goes as we hope, there would be a professional women’s hockey league in the 2023 season unlike anything we’ve ever seen,” Hefford told the Inquirer. “Philadelphia is a city of knowledgeable and passionate hockey fans. We believe it could be a fantastic market for a professional women’s hockey team.”

Hefford is a former Canadian national team player who won four straight Olympic gold medals from 2002-14. She has been involved with the PWHPA since a few months after it was founded in 2019.

According to Hefford, not only have the Flyers, who are one of the PWHPA’s official NHL partner teams, been “incredibly supportive” of the organization’s mission, but the city itself “produced really positive results in our market demand analysis.”

Also quoted in the article is Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for Comcast Spectacor, which oversees Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.

“We’re in direct contact with the PWHPA about their plans, including the possibility of bringing a team to Philly,” Camillo said. “We’re actively evaluating what makes the most sense for us, for the sport, and for the city…We definitely see it as an investment in growing the game.”

Hefford’s comments mark, if not the first, at least one of the first times anyone involved in the upper levels of the PWHPA has commented on the plans to develop a league.  In May, The Athletic reported that the PWHPA has entered into a relationship with Billie Jean King Enterprises and The Mark Walter Group in efforts to launch a new league, but there was no public announcement made.

Some players have commented on the partnership, though, with Dani Cameranesi calling the news “incredible.”

“Billie has done so much for women in sports and having her support behind such a good cause, and honestly just her experience in creating spaces for women to play gets me really excited for the future of women’s hockey,” she told Just Women’s Sports in June. “Starting a league and creating exposure where girls can see what they can be some day is the ultimate goal and aspiration for us as players and eventually giving girls a place where they can further their childhood dreams.”