The NWHL is dead; PWHPA makes plans — Interview with PHF commissioner Ty Tumminia

The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, September 10, 2021

(These are two separate things, just to be clear)

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It’s true. The NWHL is dead and the PWHPA is making plans.

What is also true is that I made these things sound more dramatic and directly related than they are in real life. Let’s break it down!

The NWHL is dead

In its place comes the Premier Hockey Federation or PHF. The National Women’s Hockey League underwent a rebrand and the information leaked over Labor Day Weekend – thanks Marisa Ingemi!

The league has been working on a rebrand since Season 6, per commissioner Ty Tumminia (more from her further down). My first reactions were, why do this in an Olympic year?

As you will read in Hailey Salvian’s latest (link below), there is already enough trouble getting eyes on women’s hockey post-Olympics. Why confuse things?

As far as the logo itself, I like it better with the full words, as opposed to on its own. The NWHL logo was nothing all that fancy, this one isn’t either for me.

I’ve seen people critique the league for removing “women’s” from the name while also still using women’s in their press release, website, etc. Well, that’s an easy one folks!

While the PHF now has a more inclusive name, it is still a woman-dominant league and will always be a place women can and will play. As a broadcaster, I asked for things like preferred names and pronouns while calling #NDubble games last season. According to the lists we received, all the players used she/her pronouns.

That might change, just as was the case with Harrison Browne. What is also true is that the PHF and the PWHPA will still be leagues where women play hockey. I don’t see the “raising of the W” as counter to that.

As far as the PWHPA, they are working hard to get the third cycle of the Dream Gap going. They’ve already announced their Halifax stop and there is more to come! Honestly, there isn’t much more news yet than what the PW announced a couple of weeks ago. As the United States enter residency and centrilization, respectively, I’d imagine the PHF and PWHPA will begin to unravel their plans for 2021-22.

I for one am curious about the broadcast deals. I asked Ty about that, read what she said in the Five at The IX section of the newsletter.

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Week in Women’s Hockey


Good, click these links and show decision-makers that if you post it, we will read it! If you have any hot tips for great stories or voices you’d like to see in The IX, email me:

Must-Click Links

Hailey Salvian takes a look at what is next for the PWHPA.

Great Q & A with Dan Rice and Ty Tumminia

That’s coach Kenzie Kent!

The impact of NIL for Division II women’s sports

Manon Rheaume gets the bronzed treatment

More hypothetical 3v3 match-ups (Yes, I still hate it but read this anyway)!

South Korea is suspended from Beijing Olympics

Tweet of the Week


Five at The IX: Ty Tumminia talks PHF

Premier Hockey Federation commissioner Ty Tumminia explains the rebrand, COVID policy, and more! Listen to the full interview on Locked on Kraken!

Ty on ‘Raising the W’ while still embracing the PHF’s role in women’s hockey

we knew when we made that decision, that it was going to be quite polarizing and it would be a conversation and and we were prepared for that we wanted that conversation, we will hope it would lend to that conversation.

Because Erica is you know, like social change. When it came to the athletes in particular, they felt very passionate about the collectively about this idea of having to always describe that they are a woman. So it wasn’t so much that we were removing it because it was a negative. We were just lifting it up in the sense to really just honor the skill and talent of the athlete.

It’s been a source of frustration over the years. Because men don’t have to do that. Right. So it’s not the national men’s hockey league. It’s and it’s also you see it in entertainment as well, too. And so I think the emphasis for them, and for us moving forward for it was the passion behind the athlete saying, I just want to be known as like a
skater, and I’ve got talent and they’re viewing me as someone that is a tremendous athlete … it was it was a statement to say look at me as a hockey player. And that’s the reason why we felt and once we talked to our sponsors and some key stakeholders, we really felt that it was time to do that now.

If we’re being honest has followed the NWHL chill and now of course is inherited by the PHF, is this conversation around language and how language matters and how it can be uniting and sometimes also polarizing. Where does the league stand when it comes to an honest conversation about being inclusive and equitable when it comes to transgender policy, but also race and ethnic identification?

I think it always keeps starting with education.

Education is key to any kind of, you know, whether it’s our clubhouse culture, whether it’s team culture, league culture. In 2016, we led the charge in 2016 and now in June. Yes, you’re you’ve alluded to Digit Murphy, when that came out, by the time the league was made aware of it Digit was definitely this associating herself with organizations that she associated herself with. And then ownership came in and took that over. In those decisions, From the league, we started working closely with Athlete Ally our policy, our new policy will be coming out before Season 7.

But change doesn’t happen right away and with time and with education. I really believe you’ll see, you know, us progress as we go along here in Season 7.

Dan Rice, I know he said in his article that he got some of his questions from Twitter. I can’t say definitively that the handles about the Izzy Cup question was mine. I do know that I tweeted it out! In reading Dan’s article for the ice garden that there could be an opportunity for maybe a little bit of a makeover?

We’re making the Izzy Cup bougie (laughs)! If I put handles on this cup, I think Anya Packer will rip them off (laughs).

Will the PHF get a social media handle makeover?

Yeah, so we definitely wanted to announce the name and yeah, the logo. It will take a couple days and so hopefully, as time (passes), you’ll start hearing about that. They’ll be a countdown as to when everything switches over and hopefully, it’ll be fun fan experience.

Ty on COVID policy

We’re gonna be announcing our plan later today. But I can tell you now that we have a two year deal with Cleveland Clinic, so our new medical provider, and so I’m thrilled to be able to work closely with them and they have been working closely closely with us all summer, we will be announcing that we are going to 100% mandate 100% vaccination with our athletes and staff. We really feel it’s important where we are with the pandemic. Now that the athletes are coming back with fans and ranks, it’s important to protect not only our athletes and our own internal community, but the external community.

Being around when you’re traveling, being around fans, being around the rink community, it’s just very important to us that everybody is protected. And so yeah, that’s what that’s where we’re gonna stand with the policy under the Federation this year will be the 100% vaccination.

Ty on PHF broadcast plans

Yeah, we do have a media exposure deal, but I’m not allowed to announce it yet (laughs). But yeah, It’ll be coming out hopefully here shortly.

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Written by Erica L. Ayala