The Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises have reached an agreement to buy the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), according to multiple reports Thursday night.
The transaction paves the way for PHF players to unite with their counterparts in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), which has long competed with the PHF in the North American women’s hockey landscape.
Players from both groups will now play together in a singular league. The Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises previously entered into a partnership with the PWHPA in May 2022 with the aim of establishing an official league for the association, which has operated with a more showcase model since 2019.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek reported on Thursday night that the PHF and PWHPA had been notified separately and that all PHF player contracts had been canceled as a result of the acquisition.
According to ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, the new unified league is ready to start playing this next January. Per multiple reportsthe new league will have six teams, which means that one of the seven existing PHF clubs will probably be eliminated.
The PHF – formerly the National Women’s Hockey League – operated with seven teams (two based in Canada and five in the United States) during the 2022–23 season. The Toronto Six defeated the Minnesota Whitecaps in the 2023 Isobel Cup Final at Mullett Arena in Tempe, Arizona.
According Athleticism‘s Hailey Salvian, PWHPA members were told Thursday night that they will be voting to ratify an all-new collective bargaining agreement in the coming days. It is unclear at this stage whether former PHF players will have a say in this process.
Notable PHWPA players prior to the acquisition include Marie-Philip Poulin, Sarah Nurse, Hilary Knight, Brianne Jenner and Kendall Coyne Schofield, who also serve on the organization’s board of directors.
In addition to Toronto and Minnesota, the PHF also featured the Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters and Montreal Force during the 2022-23 season. It remains to be seen which of the seven PHF teams will remain in the new league.
We’ll have more on this story as it develops.