It's been a long hard fight for women in sports to gain equal footing with their male counterparts, and nowhere is that clearer than in professional leagues. Hockey hasn't been particularly kind to women as the only professional women's league, the CWHL, has so little funding that the players have to sell their own tickets to games, complete with quotas, along with footing the bill for many other expenses.
Enter the National Women's Hockey League set to open doors in October 2015. No more paying for their own equipment. No more playing for free. "This a professional league," Dani Rylan said to Puck Daddy's Jen Neale. "The women will have their equipment provided to them. The equipment, tape, sticks, the necessities to play will be given to them."
According to Neal, "Dani Rylan set out to bring a CWHL franchise to her home in New York, but she didn’t stick with that plan. After Rylan, a former Northeastern hockey player, met and had several discussions with retired USA Hockey legend Angela Ruggiero, the two considered creating a paid professional league for women in the U.S."
The league is set to have a $270,000 per team salary cap and players are free to negotiate contracts just as their male counterparts do in the NHL. How will the players be selected? Neale answers that, too.
Starting in May 2015, free agency will begin. Free agents are considered college seniors and any player no longer in college, be it actively playing or not, it’s up to them to find a team and negotiate their contract terms. In June comes the draft for college juniors. The drafted players are given a year to finish their NCAA eligibility while their rights are retained by the team that drafted them, just like the guys. Once they’re done with their NCAA obligations, the women are free to then sign a contract with their team.
The inaugural season will feature four teams: the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale and will have preseason, regular season and postseason play. There will be 9 home games and 9 away games with two practices each week. The season will last from October to March.
For more information, check out the rest of Jen Neal's article.