The PWHPA is in the best hands possible to further its quest for one viable professional women’s ice hockey league in North America. The Professional Women’s Hockey Player’s Association announced the addition of Jayna Hefford as their new Operations Consultant on Wednesday.
Hefford needs no introduction to the hockey world, she’s a Hall of Famer with an on-ice resume that speaks volumes. What she brings off the ice, her advocacy and leadership, are even more promising for the PWHPA and the future of women’s hockey in North America.
“I played 17 years on the National team. Many of the women I played with are still playing. I care deeply about them and this sport which has defined who I am for so long. The things I value are things I learned through this game and pass onto my children,” Hefford shared in a statement released through the PWHPA.
Hefford previously held the role of interim commissioner for the CWHL before the the league suddenly folded this spring due to an unsustainable business model. This moment sparked change within the women’s hockey world, and in the following weeks, more than 200 of the top women’s hockey players across the world came together to form the PWHPA.
As a member of the PWHPA, our vision is to create a long-term viable professional league which will showcase the greatest product of women's hockey in the world, and Jayna is the perfect leader for this movement.
Her perspective as one of the most accomplished hockey players of all time, combined with her leadership, passion and advocacy, will make an immediate impact. The PWHPA’s goal to provide the future generation of hockey players with more opportunities and sustainability aligns with Jayna’s own perspective.
“And it’s that next generation I’m thinking about as I say I’ve never been more positive about where the game is headed and the opportunities young girls will have. I think we’ll look back years from now and see this as a pivotal moment for triggering change and I’m excited and honored to be a part of it.”
A new league won’t just pop up immediately, but the PWHPA has organized at least six showcase tournaments throughout the upcoming season to allow fans and future stars to see their idols back on the ice. The end goal of building a league that is sustainable and desirable for women’s hockey players to play in requires buy-in and support from big name sponsors and the NHL.
Hefford spoke with ESPN’s Emily Kaplan and shared that she “expects to have ongoing talks with the NHL about how they might be able to support or create a professional women's hockey league that satisfies their needs.”
It’s important to remember that the PWHPA isn’t simply asking the NHL to write a cheque, or that the players aren’t asking to be paid millions of dollars yearly. It starts with gaining proper infrastructure, resources, marketing and visibility, to make strides towards a sustainable and viable league that young girls will dream of playing in one day.
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