By Chloe Wojtanik
Boston University News Service
PWHL training camp opened up on November 15, but many questions remain unanswered – including team names and home arenas.
The PWHL, or Professional Women’s Hockey League, was founded in August of this year after former professional women’s leagues had to disband due to a lack of funding and participation. The Premiere Hockey Federation (PHF), the former top women’s league, was unable to compete for success with the other top professional men’s and women’s leagues in North America, leading to players boycotting the league out of frustration.
The boycotting women, who were the top names from the American and Canadian Olympics teams, looked into forming their own league to rival the PHF. With neither league really getting off the ground, both sides reached an agreement to merge and create the PWHL.
”I think that the next six months is going to be rocky, but again, that’s inevitable when you have two sides that have been bitter rivals and those two sides come together,” John Boynton, former PHF chair said, “It doesn’t happen immediately. But, I think that if everyone proceeds in good faith and puts in the effort and the time, there’s huge potential.”
The only thing that has really been set in stone by the PWHL is what cities the six inaugural teams will represent: Boston, Minnesota, New York, Montréal, Toronto, and Ottawa. All six teams are currently being referred to as PWHL and then the city name following because no team names have been decided on.
However, it is known that the PWHL has filed trademarks for the following names: Toronto Torch, Montreal Echo, Ottawa Alert, Minnesota Superior, Boston Wicked and New York Sound, leading hockey fans to believe those are potentially the team names.
While none of the teams have official home arenas, there have been rumors about what rinks these women will call home. For the hometown team, it is rumored that PWHL Boston is looking to play at Walter Brown Arena, Boston University women’s hockey home rink. The 3,806 seat Walter Brown Arena is slightly under the 4,000 seat goal that the PWHL set for its arenas, but finding an available and accessible arena in Boston proved difficult for the team.
Despite not knowing where they’re going to play their league games, PWHL Boston has made Boston Sports Institute their official practice facility. The multi-use recreation center in Wellesley, Massachusetts has two NHL regulation ice rinks and is located roughly 17 miles from downtown Boston. On the team’s official Instagram page, @pwhl_boston, a video was posted of the practice facility which has been fully decked out in PWHL Boston team offices, a player lounge, and a performance center.
The PWHL released the six teams home and away jerseys earlier this week and it wasn’t long after that they received public backlash. The six teams will have individual color schemes for their uniforms and have dark colored jerseys for home games and light colored jerseys for away games. All the teams jerseys have the same design on front, the name of their city diagonally across the chest of the jersey. PWHL Boston’s home jersey has a dark green background with gray and white lettering and accents. The away jersey is opposite that with a gray background and dark green detailing.
These jerseys, which are only the inaugural season, have been said by fans to resemble “beer league” jerseys and are not suited for a professional league. A comment underneath PWHL Boston’s Instagram post of the jersey reveal reads “PWHL should have taken the time to craft brands and images that fans could connect with. Where is the thing that makes these unique to Boston?”
PWHL advisory board member Stan Kasten said in many professional sports leagues, ordering new uniforms has to be done up to two years in advance. Since the home cities for the six PWHL teams weren’t finalized until August, there was little room for creativity in the design process.
The official schedule has yet to be finalized and released but the league is shooting for a January 2024 start time. Each team’s schedule will feature 24 games, 12 home and 12 away. The teams will then play in a playoff format that has yet to be finalized where they will compete for the league’s championship.
Lots of eyes will be on the PWHL from now until January to see how these much needed details will fall into place.