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Women’s professional hockey league expands to Montreal

Women'S Professional Hockey League Expands To Montreal

Montreal is finally getting its promised women’s professional hockey franchise, though the Premier Hockey Federation has held back the addition of a second expansion team entering its eighth season, the league announced Tuesday.

Introducing the league’s seventh U.S.-based, privately-backed franchise and second in Canada, PHF Commissioner Reagan Carey said it’s in the sport’s best interest to take a slower approach to growth to ensure long-term stability.

“Sometimes there’s a bit of energy and excitement and urgency to add teams. But at the same time, you have to do it in a very thoughtful way and make sure we’re doing everything at the right time with the right people moving forward.” Carey told The Associated Press.

“There have been a lot of evaluations, evaluations and a lot of conversations to try to better understand what the league needs in the immediate moment and what we need in the long term for a sustainable future,” he added. “And Montreal has been on top since day 1.”

The yet-to-be-named Montreal franchise has been in the works for about 18 months, with its launch already delayed a year by the COVID-19 pandemic. PHF officials also pledged in January to expand to a US location, without disclosing where.

Hired in April, Carey said she needed to get more familiar with the PHF before adding a second expansion team this year. As for the possibility of expanding next year, the former USA Hockey executive said, “I have no reservations about committing to expansion in Season 9.”

Women’s hockey returns to Montreal for the first time since Les Canadiennes spent 12 years playing in the country’s second-largest city before the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded after the 2019 season.

The team will be based at Center 21.02, a two-court high-performance center established and run by former Canadian women’s national team coach Daniele Sauvageau, while also playing home games in various Quebec communities to raise the team’s profile.

The Montreal franchise will be the fourth in the league owned by BTM Partners and will have local clout among its executives. French cable television broadcaster Kevin Raphael will serve as team president and Emmanuel Anderson will be named vice president. Raphael and Anderson have worked together on many projects, including organizing a hockey fundraiser to support childhood cancer foundations.

BTM also owns the Boston Pride, New Jersey-based Metropolitan Riveters and the Toronto Six. Although the league announced in March that the Toronto franchise had been sold to a group that includes former NHL coach Ted Nolan and former Canadian women’s hockey star Angela James, Carey said Tuesday that the deal had not yet been closed.

Montreal already has to catch up on establishing a roster about two months after the PHF’s free agency period opened.

Carey said that shouldn’t be a concern, citing the great pool of talent the team can draw from in Quebec. Montreal will also take advantage of the PHF’s decision to raise its salary cap to $750,000 per team this season, more than double last year’s $300,000 cap.

Montreal marks the league’s third expansion team after adding the pre-existing Minnesota Whitecaps in 2016 and establishing a new team in Toronto two years ago.

The PHF, formerly called the National Women’s Hockey League, was founded in 2015 and became the first women’s hockey league in North America to pay female players a salary. The league also has teams in Buffalo, New York and Danbury, Connecticut.

The continued advancement of the PHF in Canada coincides with discussions by the rival Women’s Professional Hockey Players Association to launch its own league within the next year. The PWHPA membership has a majority of players from the US and Canadian national teams who have refused to play for the PHF.

Although rivals, Carey supports the PWHPA because it is working towards the same goal as the PHF in seeking to grow women’s soccer.

“Moving to Canada and being able to provide opportunities for players there, as well as in the US, is important to us. So it’s a North American league for sure,” Carey said. “But at the same time, we’re not resting or settling down. Our intention is to continue to grow and provide more resources to players as we go.”

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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