Bloomberg View- Good news for fans of ice hockey and high-quality American women's sports: The National Women's Hockey League is coming to town.
That is, if your town happens to be either New York, Boston, Buffalo, New York or Stamford, Connecticut. The NWHL will feature four teams -- the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and New York Riveters -- with 18 players each. According to Yahoo Sports' Jen Neale, the season will be 18 games long and will run from October to March, including preseason and playoffs.
This is huge. As the league office told Outlook Hockey's Mike Burse, the NWHL will be "the first paid professional women's hockey league in North America." Currently, women seeking to play hockey professionally have just one option: The Canadian Women's Hockey League, which doesn't pay players. Some live off the stipend provided by their national organizations, but many countries don't offer any form of payment. So after competing in college and the Olympics, most of the world's top women's hockey players must work full-time jobs in order to continue playing their sport at the highest level. American players face a particular barrier: Only one of the five CWHL teams, the Boston Blades, is in the U.S.; to play for the others means obtaining a Canadian work visa.
The NWHL wants to change things. The salary cap will be $270,000; spread among an 18-player team, that works out to an average salary of $15,000. Star players will be able to negotiate with general managers to get more, but most will still likely have to supplement their incomes. Nonetheless, the door is at least opened to enticing high-level talent with the promise of pay, and the prospect of higher future salaries should the league succeed.
Thank god, our prayers have been heard! Finally, professional women's hockey has come to North America! Absolutely stunning that it took this long considering the wildly successful growth of the WNBA! How much are season tickets? I'll take an entire section. Sure, I live about 3,000 miles from the closest game that will be played, but I have to imagine the resale value is through the roof. I'm thinking at least a 6 cent profit on each $3 ticket. There you are ladies. You can do every thing that a man can do, including financing a professional hockey league. Sure, you are making less than a McDonald's employee. Sure, theres only 4 teams in a 100 mile span. Sure, the talent level will be comparable to a high school Junior Varsity team. Sure, the largest crowd would be lucky to reach triple digits. But hey, professional is professional, am I right? I'm sure this isn't at all a gimmick to promote the feminist movement. I'm sure it has far more to do with the growth of women's hockey.
The NWHL will also seek a partnership with the NHL, which, frankly, could use some fresh content to break the monotony of NHL Network. The NWHL will offer a streaming package available on the its own website.
Give the people what they want! The NHL network has become monotonous? Throw some women's hockey on there. I'm sure that will be met with nothing but positivity. Can't imagine any prejudice tweets or emails spawning from that decision.
As SBNation's Zoe Hayden notes, the close proximity of the four teams will keep travel costs down while fostering real, marketable regional rivalries. (Let's be honest: The Boston-New York rivalry has been lukewarm since the Red Sox started winning World Series in 2004.)
Yankees/Red Sox. Rangers/Islanders. Jets/Patriots. Knicks/Nets. Pride/Riveters.
Exactly what the northeast needs. How do you fill the void left by one of the biggest rivalries in sports history? Fill it with a bunch of women on ice lightly pushing each other and making passive aggressive comments under their breathe. I'm sure the 5 die hard fans that show up for each team will be stuffed to the gills with booze and team loyalty. Hope they have more than one security guard on hand. Can't imagine how they are going to break up a fight that started over gossip based shit talking. Putting an end to hair pulling would not be a position I am envious of.