Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) is now in Montreal, Quebec expanding back into Canada for the 2022-23 season as the seventh franchise adding to the province’s pioneering history in the sport. Formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League, the NHWL was incorporated in 2015 and went through a 2021 rebrand resulting in the now, PHF. The league headquarters are in Boston, the home of the 2020-2021 Isobel Cup champions named after a female Canadian hockey pioneer. Women playing in the professional women’s hockey league are paid to play the game they grew up loving as girls after the PHF landed $25 million in investment money early this year. In return, they help grow the sport and provide the same kind of ice hockey thrills as men do for fans across North America and really beyond because of streaming and on-demand video replays. Other teams include the Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, and the Toronto Six. These are exciting times for the PHF as back in April, Reagan Carey was announced as the league’s next commissioner, making her a role model for women in sports and youth aspiring to dream career big. Earlier this week, Jim Pfeifer, was named Chief Marketing Officer at the PHF. The dynamic Montreal front office consists of President Kevin Raphaël and Vice President Emmanuel Anderson. The team’s elite athletes will play home games at Centre 21.02, a High Performance Hockey Center. An official team name and new logo will be released in a few weeks as will the makeup of the inaugural coaching staff and first roster once player signings begin. Look for the 2022-23 PHF regular season schedule announcement shortly and news as to when tickets for Montreal’s home games go on sale. The Sports Techie community blog is thrilled to share this hockey and women in sport news with our readers and followers. MTL is back again in the hockey house.
Raphaël is no stranger to women’s hockey and has proudly been a long-time ambassador for the sport across the province. He regularly uses his platform to raise awareness for the sport and its athletes, including production of a three-part docuseries in 2020 titled ‘Gap Year’ that examined the state of women’s hockey. He is well-known across Quebec’s media landscape as host of ‘Viens Voir Mes Rénos’ on Casa, a regular contributor to ‘VLOG’ and ‘Salut Bonjour’ on TVA, co-host for WWE weekly broadcasts on TVA Sports, and hosts his own ever-growing podcast called ‘Sans Restriction’ in addition to other radio programming. Raphaël has been business partners with Anderson for over a decade with collaborations on many projects in the sports, entertainment, and philanthropy fields. Most notably, their annual charity hockey game known as ‘Classique KR’ features NHL players, women’s hockey stars, and Quebec personalities raising money to support childhood cancer foundations. Together they join a growing list of PHF leaders with diverse backgrounds that includes Toronto Six owners Anthony Stewart, Angela James, Bernice Carnegie, and Ted Nolan, and Boston Pride minority owner Willie O’Ree.
“Professional women’s hockey is back in Montreal, and Emmanuel and I are very excited to work with the PHF to help grow the women’s game across the entire province of Quebec,” said Raphaël. “We look forward to building a team with strong community partnerships and talented athletes who are ready to make a real difference on and off the ice. This is just the beginning for what is going to be a very special season for everyone.”
“This is a very exciting time for the PHF and the growth of professional women’s hockey,” said Reagan Carey, PHF Commissioner. “The city of Montreal and province of Quebec have a rich hockey history that the PHF is proud to officially be a part of. In addition to their community pride and passion for the game, the leadership from Kevin, Emmanuel, and Centre 21.02 provides a trifecta when it comes to hockey, business, and promotional experience that will make an immediate and lasting impact. Expansion is an important part of the PHF’s commitment to grow the game by providing greater opportunities for more professional athletes to develop and compete, while inspiring the next generation to pursue their own dreams in the sport. The introduction of one new PHF team in 2022-23 will help us build a solid and sustainable future, one step at a time. We will continue to evaluate additional expansion opportunities across North America beyond next season.”
Historical Hockey Town
The city’s professional women’s hockey history includes the Montreal Stars, founded in 2007, and re-branded Les Canadiennes de Montreal in 2015. They competed in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and won a record four Clarkson Cup championships between 2009 and 2019. In December 2015, the Canadiennes and the Boston Pride made history competing in the first outdoor women’s game as part of the 2016 NHL Winter Classic festivities. This marks the third time the PHF has expanded following the League’s establishment in 2015 with the founding four teams being the Pride, Beauts, Whale, and Riveters. The Whitecaps became the fifth franchise awarded during the League’s fourth season of operations in 2018-19, followed by the Six which began competition during the Federation’s sixth season in 2020-21.
Founded in 2019, Centre 21.02 is a two-pad sports complex in Verdun with a 2,500-seat capacity. It is the first and only recognized High Performance Hockey Center for women athletes in Canada. While it will serve as the primary training home for Montreal’s new PHF franchise, games during the 2022-23 season will be played in communities across Quebec to help raise the PHF’s profile and showcase professional women’s hockey to greater audiences. Guided by a Board of Directors, Danièle Sauvageau, who coached Canada’s National Women’s Team to its first-ever Olympic gold medal in 2002, is a renowned women’s hockey icon in Quebec who serves as Centre 21.02 President, Chief Executive Officer, and Coach.
“The mission of Centre 21.02 is to provide a first class training environment for elite women athletes from Quebec to develop and be worldwide leaders in hockey,” commented Centre 21.02 Board of Directors. “Growing women’s hockey is important for achieving success at all levels of the game, especially for young girls who have role models to follow. We are proud to be part of the growth of the game and support athletes who aim to play at the professional level.”
For more information go to PHFMontreal.com.
Sports Techie, I did a deep dive into the background of Manon Rhéaume, and her path to becoming “The First Women of Hockey” as the first and only woman to play a game in the NHL with Tampa Bay. She has a statue in Quebec City and is a true hockey legend throughout the world. I personally add that Manon is a super nice person and a wonderful ambassador for the sport of hockey. There are more fellow grinders to thank like the new PHF Commish.
Commissioner Carey worked for USA Hockey for twelve years mostly as Director, Women’s Hockey and also General Manager of the Women’s National Hockey Team. Talk about being qualified. Before that stint, she worked here in Atlanta for the Hawks in the NBA, and for the former NHL team, the Thrashers.
Jessica Berman, NWSL Commissioner and former NLL Interim Commissioner, just tweeted out the trend in professional women sports to hire female commissioners, a fact in the NWSL, WNBA and PHF which Carey agreed with, as do I.
I have never visited Montreal but it surely is on my bucket list.
Enjoy the PHF games at Centre 21.02!
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