NWHL Season Suspended By COVID…Again

Sierra Borkowski

As professional sports begin to transition into normalcy, COVID-19 persists to haunt some smaller, less popular leagues. The National Womens Hockey League had their season suspended on February 3rd, a day before their championship semifinals were to occur.


This suspension was not out of the blue. The Metropolitan Riveters had withdrawn from the tournament just days before the season was cut short. The Connecticut Whale also withdrew out of concerns for their players and staff.


Before the suspension, the NWHL season was being played in a bubble in Lake Placid, New York, site of the Miracle on Ice. The season was taking place over the course of 2 weeks. Each of the six teams played five games in eight days, immediately followed by playoffs, semifinals and finals.


The semifinals and finals were to air on NBC Sports, a large platform upgrade with most of the league’s games being broadcasted through Twitch. The nationally televised games would give the league a level of exposure above and beyond what its accustomed to.


This marks the second year in a row that the league playoffs have been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s season was stopped just before the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Boston Pride were to compete in the Isobel Cup Final.

The NWHL was founded in 2015 to fuel the growing interest in the sport and the brand of women’s hockey. The league is built and run by women by a large majority. It is the first professional women’s hockey league ever in America. This also marked the first-time women were payed salaries to play hockey.

The league uses a strong fan commitment approach to grow and connect with their fanbases. Before the pandemic, players would make themselves available after every game for photos and autograph opportunities until everyone in line got their turn.


Most women in the league are pursuing other careers on the side in order to support themselves financially, as the league does not provide a stable pay to live on stand alone.


The league’s salary cap is set at $270,000 with the average salary of $15,000. The highest paid player, Kelli Stack, earns $25,000. For NHL comparison purposes, the cap is set at $81.5M, the average salary is $3M and the highest paid player, Austin Matthews, makes $13M.


The leagues commissioner says she wants to do everything in their power to make sure the remainder of the season can be played out, no matter what that looks like.


Sources: NBC Sports, Hockey Wilderness.com, NWHL Zone, Forbes