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The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) is set to crown its first-ever champion, with advisory board member Stan Kasten attributing the success of the league’s inaugural season to the perfect timing of its launch in January. Women’s sports have been gaining momentum, and the 50th anniversaries of Title IX and Billie Jean King’s fight for equal prize money provided a fitting backdrop for the PWHL’s launch. The league has exceeded revenue projections, thanks in part to strategic decisions like investing in high-quality television broadcasts on traditional media as well as online platforms like YouTube.

The PWHL has successfully established six franchises in two countries, held a draft, and completed a 24-game regular season that saw attendance records being set, with a peak of 21,105 fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The league’s immediate focus is on awarding the Walter Cup to the first-ever champion following a best-of-five final series between PWHL Minnesota and Boston. Minnesota currently leads the series 2-1 and has the opportunity to win the championship on home ice.

In addition to the final series, the PWHL has announced plans for the second annual draft on June 10 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, followed by the inaugural PWHL Awards on June 11. The draft will feature top players declaring for selection, including Olympic gold medalist Amanda Kessel, as well as award winners from the college ranks. The draft order for the top picks was determined by a ‘Gold Plan’ for non-playoff teams, with New York earning the first overall selection.

Looking ahead to the future, the league plans to unveil team nicknames and logos, expand the schedule to 30 games in the second season, and potentially host more neutral-site contests. Expansion is on the horizon, as the league seeks to grow its talent pool and explore development strategies for players who don’t make the main rosters. While specific details about special events like an all-star game are yet to be announced, the PWHL is committed to long-term success and establishing itself as a permanent fixture in the world of women’s professional hockey.

In just nine months since its inception, the PWHL has made tremendous strides in establishing itself as a viable and successful women’s professional hockey league. The league’s power-brokers, including Kasten and senior vice president Jayna Hefford, are focused on sustainable growth and development strategies as they look towards an exciting future for women’s hockey. The success of the inaugural season, despite challenges and higher than expected expenses, bode well for the long-term prospects of the PWHL as it aims to establish itself as a premier destination for elite women’s hockey players.

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