Reports are surfacing that the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) will add teams in Montreal and Toronto for the 2019-2020 season. The National Hockey League will also be a significant investor in the women’s league going forward.
Just spoke to Dani Rylan, have some women's hockey news to share: the NWHL board has approved investments in two Canadian markets. League expects to have teams in Toronto and Montreal this upcoming season. NWHL will have 7 teams.
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) April 2, 2019
NWHL Looks to Expand to Montreal, Toronto
The expansion and investment news comes on the heels of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceasing operations on April 1. Toronto and Montreal were near the top of CWHL attendance and would be desirable markets for the NWHL.
League founder and commissioner Dani Rylan spoke with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday and confirmed the NHL’s investment. The NWHL board will invest in the two Canadian markets that will hopefully start playing next season.
There are five teams as of now in the NWHL based out of Buffalo, Boston. New York, Connecticut and Minnesota. The league would be seven teams strong and be in markets that would have seven teams.
What it Means for the Future
Adding Montreal and Toronto would give the NWHL a footprint in Canada. The two clubs would be the first entries into that market.
Expanding also gives Canadian players a chance to play in their home country. There are plenty of good players in the league that will get a chance to stay in Canada.
The quality of play for the NWHL will also improve because many of the displaced players from the CWHL could give the NWHL a shot.
It also means the NHL is going to try to grow the women’s game. Having two leagues made things hard for the NHL, but now they can focus on the NWHL. Hockey hopes to follow the model of the National Basketball Association investing heavily into the WNBA like the league has done for years.
The league only plays 16 regular season games, but adding the two teams could give a chance to see an expanded schedule. The league is hoping to strike it big with Canadian expansion.
Boston Pride’s forward Brianna Decker (C) scores against New York Riveters during their game of the first season of the National Womens Hockey League (NWHL) at the Aviator Sports and Events Center in New Yorks borough of Brooklyn on October 18, 2015. A small band of trailblazing female ice hockey players have struck a blow for women’s sports in the United States by signing up for the nation’s first professional league for women. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)