The PHWL (Professional Women's Hockey League) kicked off on January 1st when the Toronto-New York game reached nearly 3 million Canadians alone. But let's back up, what is the PWHL? And why should we care?
While other sports like soccer and basketball have successful women’s leagues, one hasn’t been created for hockey till now. Previous leagues not enduring is not my focus, but it was certainly not because of a lack of talent. The PWHL roster is littered with the names of Olympic champions.
Just look at each team and its captain:
Minnesota: Kendall Coyne Schofield (Olympic Gold Medalist)
Montreal: Marie-Philip Poulin (3x Olympic Gold Medalist)
Boston: Hilary Knight (Olympic Gold Medalist)
Ottawa: Brianne Jenner (2x Olympic Gold Medalist)
New York: Micah Zandee-Hart (Olympic Gold Medalist)
Toronto: Blayre Turnbull (Olympic Gold Medalist)
And that’s only scratching the surface.
Beyond the season opener's numbers, PWHL Minnesota had over 13,000 in attendance when they played at the Xcel Energy Center (the Minnesota Wild’s home arena). There’s a hunger for women’s hockey. Fans want good, exciting games.
One thing the PWHL has done very well is accessibility. Outside of Canada, all PWHL games are streamed on their YouTube channel. It literally could not be easier to watch a hockey game.
If you haven’t gotten in on the fun yet, the PHWL season will go through May. I’m not from any state/province the teams are in, but it’s been a blast getting a feel for each team and even figuring out rivalries.
Rivalries are always fun. Do I think first-overall pick Taylor Heise is an unbelievably dynamic player that I’ll be a fan of for a long time? Without a doubt. Do I have a grudge against the entire state of Minnesota because of the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild rivalry? Very much so.
What this league brings is a blank slate. It’s a chance for more favorite players, jaw-dropping highlights, and fierce matchups. Young girls will see these players regularly instead of just every four years at the Olympic Games. But it goes beyond little girls. The birth of this professional league gives some of the most talented athletes, who are women, a legitimate place to play and hopefully prosper.
My hope for the PHWL is for fun team names and jerseys, but more importantly, for the league to itself in this position.
Maybe one day, there will be a PWHL Dallas team. Southern hockey is not considered a traditional market, but those southwestern hockey fans will undoubtedly show up for their teams. I want to see the passion of Texas hockey fans spread to women’s hockey.
Hockey is a skilled game with physicality, which is all any hockey fan could want. Watch an exciting new league and help it grow. Who knows, maybe one day it'll reach our backyards in Dallas at the American Airlines Center.
(and yes, the girls are fighting)