Teams in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) will wear jerseys with their city name across the chest for the league’s inaugural season.
It’s one item checked off a long list of things to do before the league’s six teams begin play in January, and comes just in time for the start of training camps on Wednesday.
Teams will have two sets of jerseys during the first season. They’ll wear dark jerseys on home ice, and lighter coloured jerseys while away.
Toronto’s home jerseys will be blue, Ottawa’s will be red and Montreal’s will be burgundy. Boston, New York and Minnesota are the U.S.-based teams, and they’ll wear green, turquoise and purple uniforms, respectively, at home.
The jerseys will also include advertising. They’ll each have a shoulder patch from Canadian Tire, which signed a multi-year agreement with the PWHL in September.
The league’s uniforms for the first season don’t include team logos, a concession the PWHL had to make as it powers toward a January launch, PWHL advisory board member Stan Kasten told reporters on Tuesday. If logos appear on jerseys in the first season, it would likely be on a patch similar to the one made for Canadian Tire.
That’s because the league had to order the jerseys “right away” before sorting out branding details, Kasten said. He said most of the big companies were already “swamped” by the summer, when the the PWHL was created.
“We found someone who could do this and we did this in maybe early August is when we placed our order, once we knew what our cities were,” Kasten said.
Kasten said the league will have merchandise for fans to order online by December, and items in venues by January.
Schedule for first season ’98 per cent done’
The league announced its practice venues earlier this week, but hasn’t announced home arenas for games. Kasten said the paperwork hasn’t been signed for all those venues yet.
The schedule for the first season hasn’t been released yet, but Kasten said it’s “98 per cent done.”
“I think basically all of the home schedules are done,” he said. “And the holes that remain in our schedule are specialty events or neutral site events or things like that, and most of those holes are in the second half of the season.”
Kasten described the league as being seven weeks away from playing hockey, which would put the PWHL’s very first game in the first week of January.
Games to be played on weekdays, weeknights
Teams will typically play two games a week, including a game during the week and one on the weekend, according to PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations, Jayna Hefford.
“There will be games played every day of the week which is exciting, again something that our sport hasn’t seen,” Hefford said. “Traditionally we’ve played games on weekends because it hasn’t been a full-time job for many players.”
The league also hasn’t announced its broadcast plans, but Kasten said “an awful lot, if not all” of the PWHL’s games will air on linear television in addition to streaming.
Kasten said he’s asked Scheer to take a fresh look at the league’s schedule, broadcast plan and venues, among other things, before the league commits to them.
“Things that we really are ready to announce, we’re going to take a little while longer,” he said. “If Amy thinks some things need more of a review or a complete rethink, well, that’s what we’ll do.”
‘All hands on deck’ preparing for camps
When training camps open in all six markets, players will all have access to the same equipment, something that hasn’t always been true in previous women’s hockey leagues.
When Hefford and her staff started preparing for camps, they didn’t have basic things like skate laces, tape or even bandages. They’ve had to go out and buy skate sharpeners, sewing machines and rehab equipment, among other things.
“Players will be able to select the equipment they want to wear,” Hefford said. “It’s extensive. I’ve learned more about some of this stuff than I ever knew playing the game and being a part of it. But we’ve all worked incredibly hard to make sure when the players walk in, they have everything they need to be professional athletes.”
In some cases, the preparation involved construction.
The PWHL has built new dressing rooms in some venues, including inside Ottawa’s TD Place. Some of that work was overseen by coaches and GMs — Kasten described Boston GM Danielle Marmer overseeing the installation of new lockers at that team’s facility.
Rosters set by Dec. 11
Players will begin training camps with medicals and off-ice testing before taking to the ice later this week.
In future years, when the PWHL begins its season in November, training camps will last two to three weeks.
But this year’s camps will last six weeks, something Kasten said players requested so they could get settled into their markets.
All six teams will go through education sessions on issues like concussions and doping, and teams will scrimmage against each other for the first time, with one of those scrimmages open to the public.
The camp is also a chance to do some experimenting, Hefford added.
“For us on a hockey [operations], on a game presentation, on the marketing side, we have an opportunity to try some things and make sure that when we launch in January, we’re ready to go,” she said.
Teams must have final rosters, which include 23 players on contract and two reserve players, set by Dec. 11.