The Time Is Right For The WNHL, Now The NHL Needs To Step Up

Imagine a new generation of young girls able to watch their heroes playing professional women’s hockey, and to know they could play the game they loved, and make a living wage from it.

That is a wonderful thought, and with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association doing their part, the time is right (let’s be clear the time was right many years ago) for a Women’s National Hockey League (WNHL).

What needs to happen however, is the NHL needs to step up and make this happen. The NBA has supported the WNBA in many ways, and the WNBA is a wonderful league, paying players a living wage.

The current women’s professional league, the NWHL, pays players less than $15,000, many less than $10,000 to play in the league. Team salary caps are $150,000.

In fact, if a team carries 23 players (like the NHL), that would be only $6521 on average, per player.

In the NHL, the team salary cap is $81.5 million, and the league minimum a player can earn is $700,000.

How does this get fixed? First the NHL needs to step up. Currently, the NHL gives about $100,000 to the NWHL, total. That’s pathetic.

Here are a couple of basic ideas that would in essence, cost the NHL nothing.

Idea One – Provide each WNHL (or NWHL) team with $700,000, the equivalent of an NHL league minimum salary. This would pay each of a WNHL team’s 23 players $30,434. Better, but still terrible. At least it would be a stepping stone, or phase in toward idea two.

Idea Two – Each NHL team is required to provide the equivalent of an NHL league minimum salary toward the establishment of the WNHL, each year. $700,000 x 31 = $21.7 million. That would mean in the current 5 team NWHL, with 23 players per roster, players would be earning on average $188,695.

Now we’re talking. Does a huge gap still exist? 100%. Is this a wage any human can live on comfortably and that would attract the most talented players in the world to the WNHL/NWHL. Absolutely. It’s a starting place to begin closing the gap.

There’s room for expansion in the WNHL/NWHL. 5 teams isn’t ideal.

With the Dream Gap tour, the participation in the NHL all-star game, and high calibre women’s hockey developing across the globe, the time is right to make this happen.

But how does it happen when NHL teams are businesses who glorify money and will protect the bottom line above all else?

In all likelihood, the best way to get this done, is for the NHLPA to negotiate this into their collective bargaining agreement. If the players push it forward, it can happen.

It would be amazing to see expansion of a women’s league, and getting the opportunity to see double headers of women’s and men’s games. It would be amazing to see a women’s professional game at the Winter Classic, and a women’s professional game, every year at the All-Star game, but featuring all-stars from a women’s pro league.

It isn’t hard to do, and it isn’t that far off, but the NHL needs to literally put their money where their mouth is, and prove building the game is worth an investment like this.

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