Starting in 2024, Hockey fans will have a new league to follow: the Professional Women's Hockey League, whose founders hopes to succeed where other leagues have failed.
Five-time Olympic medalist Jayna Hefford never imagined that she would see a women's league that compared to the National Hockey League. Now, she's the senior vice president of hockey operations at the PWHL.
"To have something like this today that we're launching is something that's so significant for our sport and I know that many women (that came) before me have dreamed of something like this," she said in a statement.
The NHL also congratulated the PWHL on Tuesday, adding: "We remain committed to supporting the women's game and look forward to working together with the PWHL to grow our sport."
PWHL board member Stan Kasten told ESPN that the NHL will provide consultation as the new league grows.
"I think that is one of the elements that hasn't been there in all prior iterations of a pro women's league," he said, expressing his confidence in the league's success.
As Kasten said, previous iterations were seriously lacking. Executive director of the PWHL Players' Association, Brian Burke, noted the way things were for the Canadian Women's Hockey League.
"I've watched players borrow tape and borrow laces when the teams playing had no resources at all," he told ESPN. "I've seen now the hardships they've gone through, the iterations they've gone through, to get there to play and to put this together."
The league's 6 yet-to-be-named teams hail from Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, New York, Boston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. For its inaugural year, the PWHL will have 24 games per team, and they plan to announce the schedule soon.
Hefford is optimistic about the future of the league, and what it means for women's sports.
“We have never seen more excitement and demand for women’s sports," she wrote. "Through the launch of this league, the top women’s players in the world will have the opportunity to reach even greater heights.”