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PWHL’s Battle of Bay Street sets women’s hockey attendance mark

ICYMI: Friday’s game between Montreal and Toronto’s new PWHL teams drew 19,825 fans, shattering the all-time women’s ice hockey attendance mark. It’s been a long time coming

In May 2019, around 200 of North America’s best women hockey players decided they wouldn’t play for another league until there was a serious and sustainable one, with the “resources that professional hockey demands and deserves”. Previous leagues, like the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, had either folded, or in the case of the Premier Hockey Federation, were cash-strapped and offered subpar working conditions. The players wanted decent pay, for one. They also felt they deserved the same kind of protections, like health insurance, that other professionals – athletes or otherwise – are usually unquestionably afforded. They wanted more than just a new place to play. They needed, and needed for others to have, a destination.

Some of those breakaway players were at Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto on Friday night at ‘the Battle on Bay Street’, a midseason marquee matchup between Montreal and Toronto’s new Professional Women’s Hockey League teams. The PWHL, which launched in January, is a product of their 2019 decision. And the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, formed in that boycott, is now a union with a collective bargaining agreement with the PWHL. The CBA runs through 2031, ensuring salaries of up to USD$80,000, competition bonuses, life and health insurance, workers’ compensation and parental leave. In other words, the same kind of deal the men have had for ages. On Friday, the two women’s teams had something else usually only afforded their male peers: a crowd of 19,285, the highest-ever attendance at a women’s hockey game. Continue reading…

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