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LPHF: the girls deserve better

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LPHF: the girls deserve better
Launching a new commercial product is never an easy task. Especially when others have failed to do the same thing as you before.

I know something about that: I’ve been juggling two or three podcastideas for two or three years now… which I’ve never launched, because I don’t want to rush it.

I love the initiative of the PWHL, a professional women’s hockey league founded last August by Mark Walter and his group of investors. Six teams will participate in the league’s first season, three in Canada (Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa) and three in the USA (Boston, New York and Minnesota).

The league has tried to do things in a serious way, even going so far as to create a players’ union… headed by Brian Burke. At least the two parties agreed on an eight-season deal.

But on many other levels, the new professional league has been amateurish… or at least hasty and lacking in experience and/or vision.

When you’ve seen the defunct CWHL die out after just five years of existence… and the NWHL become the PHF, then disappear, you’ve got to get it right when you decide to launch your product (in this case, a new professional women’s hockey league).

But there have been many mistakes so far, and the first game hasn’t even been played yet.

We had decided on six team names(Boston Wicked, Minnesota Superior, Montreal Echo, New York Sound, Ottawa Alert and Toronto Torch)… but a few social protests meant that, initially, the league will have six city names and six color kits, but no team names… and no logos!

Not ideal when you want to connect with your new local fanbase

The schedule was published late in the fall, which doesn’t leave much time to try and sell tickets. In fact, at the time of writing, none of the teams have yet put their individual tickets on sale.

The seasons will consist of 32 games, played from November to May, but for a variety of reasons, the first campaign will consist of only 24 games, played from January to May or June (2024).

Teams will play in arenas seating less than 4,000 (in Toronto)… but also in amphitheaters seating close to 20,000 (New York and Minnesota). At least in Montreal, several season tickets in the Verdun Auditorium have already been snapped up. It’s not like that everywhere!

Some see the glass as half-full, telling themselves that the league started from scratch and that in four months, it has accomplished small miracles

Others don’t understand how easily avoidable mistakes could have been made… and are still being made today. Should we have waited another year before launching the project? Perhaps not.

It’s like trying to paint the walls, but the joints haven’t been pulled yet.

Just this morning, we learned that the league will not be disclosing the nature of injuries sustained by its players. In fact, it’ll be even worse than in the NHL: they won’t even say whether it’s an upper or lower body injury!

You know, when you start a new project, you have to look at what works and what doesn’t work elsewhere. You have to try to do as well as elsewhere, or even better. However, the NHL’s policy of hiding real injuries – unlike a league like the NFL – has many people in North America fuming.

You have the chance to start from scratch: improve this aspect of your league, instead of making it worse. These are silly little mistakes that you can easily avoid.

I know, there’s the medical confidentiality aspect involved, but with the information floating around on social networks, online betting sites – legal and illegal – multiplying everywhere and the constant challenge of selling women’s hockey, it seems to me that you should have avoided painting yourself like that.

Girls often demand better conditions when they play hockey, and they’re absolutely right to do so. They deserve better.

Let’s hope that the LPHF product isn’t created too quickly and that it doesn’t do what its predecessors have done, which is to disappear too quickly. Women’s hockey deserves to flourish, not wither. And young female fans deserve real female role models.

The LPHF claims to have a long-term vision with its product: let’s hope that a few short-term difficulties don’t nip a highly interesting project in the bud. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. We can’t always count on Chinese money to save our North American product…

Note that the minimum salary should be $35,000 and the average salary around $55,000… and that the reserve players won’t have it easy.

In gusto

– Shohei Ohtani’s contract continues to be the talk of the town.

– Tom Brady, Expos legend… in real life?

– It’s up to him to make the most of it.

– Another player who stays put.

– Will he or won’t he?

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