The National Women's Hockey League Will Pay Women For A Sport They Were Never Paid For Before

Women hockey players rejoice: the new National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is set to launch this fall. Even better news? The NWHL is planning to play its players, which sets it apart from the existing professional women’s hockey league, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL). Moreover, the NWHL’s formation marks the “first paid professional women’s hockey league in North America,” the league’s office reports.

This new professional league — which is the creation of Dani Rylan, former Northeastern hockey player and retired USA Hockey player Angela Ruggiero — will not only pay their players and treat them like employees, but will also pay for their players’ gear. Women who are currently playing professional hockey usually have to fund their careers out of their own pockets, buying their own equipment and sticks.

So how exactly will the NWHL pay their players? Well, each of the league’s teams will get an operation budget, which will pay for players and team staff. Each team has a salary cap of $270,000, which would even out to about $15,000 per player, although the league is not required to offer each player the same contract. The league can also offer work visas to international players, and is considered to be a part-time job. And while the pay may not sound like big earnings, it’s certainly a big step up from current professional women’s hockey leagues that pay nothing at all.

At this point, the NWHL reports that it has verbal commitments from more than 20 well-known players, and has gotten interest from “several Olympians, both American and Canadian.” However, the league is also still accepting online registration for the draft with a June 1, 2015 deadline currently set. Junior and senior women’s college players are eligible to register and to be drafted.

There are currently four registered teams, complete with official trademarks. The teams competing so far in the initial 2015-16 season are the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters (playing out of Long Island) and Connecticut Whale (playing out of Stamford, Conn.). The four team locations were selected as areas with the biggest growth potential.

The season will kick off in October and end in March and will include preseason and playoff games. But first, the league will kick off with a launch party in New York City on April 13, 2015 that will feature guest speakers. And this certainly is an occasion worthy of a party. This is a great step in the right direction toward removing barriers from women’s sports leagues that cause them to fall in the shadows.

If women are great at a sport and passionate enough to play professionally, then they deserve to be paid — just like the boys are.