The National Women’s Hockey League is coming north of the border. The NWHL announced today that their sixth season will include a team in Toronto, owned by former Harvard player Johanna Neilson Boynton. Boynton explained exactly why they are launching the team even amidst the current uncertainty in the sports landscape:
We aspire to build a perennial Isobel Cup contender for Toronto. This will be an organization with strong fan, community and corporate support, outstanding coaching, training, and player development, and a club dedicated to promoting hockey as a game for everyone. Although this pandemic is challenging everyone in profound ways today, and we are very mindful of that, our outlook for women’s sports remains positive. We are launching this team now because we believe in the future.
The advancement of a professional women’s hockey league for Canada and the U.S., one that will stand and flourish on its own, is a passion for me and everyone associated with the NWHL. We are driven every day to increase the opportunities available to women’s hockey players of all ages, and that’s what this expansion is all about. There is so much potential, and Toronto is the logical next step. I look forward to working closely with players, staff, sponsors, and fans to give Toronto the team the community deserves.
Toronto was an obvious next step for the league, following the closure of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League a year ago. The NWHL had immediately floated the idea of having teams in both Toronto and Montreal, huge hockey markets that could be key to continuing league growth.
The new Toronto team also announced that they have already signed five players. Kristen Barbara, Elaine Chuli, Shiann Darkangelo, Emma Greco, and Taylor Woods have all signed on for the season. Each of the five has played in the CWHL in the past.
Notably, four of the players signed had previously been a part of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA). The PWHPA had been playing touring events to try and showcase women’s hockey, and were at odds with the NWHL’s plan for expansion.
For more information on who will be leading the new Toronto team, Marisa Ingemi of The Ice Garden broke down the “polarizing” history of Digit Murphy, who was named team president.