Premier Hockey Federation plans to double salary cap for 2023-24 to $1.5m per team

Players of the Boston Pride celebrate after scoring a goal during the top hockey union’s game against the Connecticut Whales at Wesley Chapel in Florida on March 28.Arielle Bader/AP

The Premier Hockey Federation has announced plans to increase the salary cap to $1.5 million per team for the 2023-24 season, doubling down on its support for women’s hockey by offering players the opportunity to earn a living wage to actively deepen their talent pool.

The increase, announced Wednesday morning, would double the current cap of $750,000 per team for the season and is part of a $25 million three-year total commitment approved by the league’s board of governors 11 months ago. The PHF is currently made up of seven franchises, though commissioner Reagan Carey told The Associated Press that expansion is being considered again after the league added a team in Montreal this season.

“It’s just another example of us moving full steam ahead knowing this could be a great sport for a wider audience and doing more for the players in it,” Carey said. The announcement is a victory for anyone who cares about women’s sport, especially women’s hockey.”

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The decision was approved at the league’s winter meeting, and the salary cap hike now represents a 900 percent increase since the 2021-22 season, when each team was capped at $150,000. As part of the cash influx, the PHF has also begun to provide players with comprehensive health care benefits this season, while also adding league operations staff and improving team facilities.

“This is a major commitment that reflects the dedication of everyone involved in the PHF and understanding the importance of reaching this milestone number,” Carey said. “I think it’s certainly a testament to the strength of our alliance and the business development model we’ve been working on and continue to create. It just speaks to the confidence and direction of the PHF.”

As for expansion, Carey said, “it’s definitely on the agenda,” but didn’t provide any further details or timeline.

This season’s salary cap increase led to Mikyla Grant-Mentis becoming the first female hockey player in North America to sign an $80,000 contract with the Buffalo Beauts. With a $1.5 million cap, the 20-player roster earns an average of $75,000 per player per season.

All seven teams are over 75 percent of the salary cap, and some are already at the cap, Carey said.

“This is an incredible development and a testament to the unwavering commitment of people to make this happen,” Nicole Corriero, executive director of the PHF Players Association, wrote in an article to The Associated Press. , PA recognizes the many past and present players who pioneered the league and the sport in general.  …Without them, the success and continued growth of this league would not be possible.

The influx of money means teams will be able to offer salaries in excess of $150,000, which would exceed what current salaries are for US and Canadian national team players. Attracting national team players is considered the final hurdle for the PHF to become the top stage in women’s hockey in North America.

Most national team players are reluctant to join the PHF. Instead, they formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, which has partnered with investors and NHL franchises to form its own league. The unveiling of the league, initially planned for the end of the year, has been postponed indefinitely to 2023.

The increase in PHF funding coincides with an overhaul of the league’s business and ownership model, which included a name change from the Women’s National Hockey League two years ago.

PHF teams are now privately owned, although some ownership groups control more than one franchise. In addition to Buffalo and Montreal, the league also has teams in Boston, New Jersey, Connecticut, Minnesota and Toronto.

The NWHL, a four-team start-up founded in 2015 by Dani Rylan Kearny, became the first women’s hockey league in North America to pay players. The league initially controlled all of the franchises while relying on outside investors to fill the gap in revenue from ticket and merchandise sales to cover salaries, travel and administrative expenses.

The PHF now has multiple sponsorship deals and broadcast deals with ESPN+ and Canada’s TSN to cover all of its games.

Carey, in her first year as commissioner, could not have imagined the financial commitment of women’s hockey a decade ago during her eight-year tenure overseeing the US women’s hockey game. The challenge at the time was finding creative ways to keep national team players and prospects in the sport with few options for playing hockey for a living after college.

“To see how far it’s come, no, it’s hard to imagine that’s where we are. It’s humbling to recognize how many people have to be involved in the commitment to move things forward,” Carey said. “Just gained extraordinary traction and progress in a short period of time.”

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