Less than three weeks after the CWHL handed out the Clarkson Cup to the Boston Blades, news comes that next season they’ll have to compete with a rival women’s league… and a rival league that can pay its players.
Puck Daddy’s Jen Neale reported this afternoon the league, spawned by Dani Rylan and former Team USA superstar Angela Ruggiero, will begin its inaugural season in 2015-16. With four teams spread across the Northeastern United States, the four team league hopes it can coincide with the CWHL while giving women’s players another option, one that will offer them pay and takes the onus off of its players to find time, money and resources to compete in the league.
The four teams – the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale – will each operate under a $270,000 salary cap, according to Neale, with each player being able to negotiate their own salary. Free agency will begin in May, with a June draft for college juniors that will allow teams to retain the rights of the college athletes for one year.
Though Rylan told Neale she sees the CWHL and NWHL coinciding, it’s hard to imagine a women’s league that can pay its players wouldn’t take some of the top talent from the CWHL. It also frees up time and money for the athletes, as the CWHL has a much greater demand on time and financially. Players in the CWHL can sometimes be saddled with the costs for equipment, but Rylan told Neale that’s not the case in the NWHL.
“Nope, this a professional league,” Rylan said. “The women will have their equipment provided to them. The equipment, tape, sticks, the necessities to play will be given to them.”
Each club will play nine home and nine away games and take on somewhat of a minor professional mentality – the league wants to be heavy on theme nights to draw crowds, Neale writes.
The NWHL has its sights set on beginning play in October, and the season will continue into March.