Jayna Hefford to lead Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association

Jayna Hefford. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association has named Jayna Hefford its Operations Consultant.

In her new role, Hefford will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the union and will work to “increase revenue, sponsorships, and opportunities for the future of women’s hockey,” according to a press release. She is taking over for Bryan Hicks who was hired on July 1.

“I played 17 years on the national team. Many of the women I played with are still playing. I care deeply about them and this sport which has defined who I am for so long. The things I value are things I learned through this game and pass onto my children,” Hefford said in a statement. “And it’s that next generation I’m thinking about as I say I’ve never been more positive about where the game is headed and the opportunities young girls will have. I think we’ll look back years from now and see this as a pivotal moment for triggering change and I’m excited and honoured to be a part of it.”

Hefford was the interim commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) for the 2018-19 season before the league decided to discontinue operations on May 1. The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) is now the only professional women’s hockey league in North America, and is scheduled to start the regular season on Oct. 5.

The PWHPA was formed on May 20 with the goal of creating a single women’s professional league in North America. Players like Hilary Knight, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Brianna Decker, Marie-Philip Poulin and Shannon Szabados have already said they plan to sit out the 2019-2020 season as they continue to push for a more suitable league to play in.

In an interview with Emily Kaplan of ESPN also published Wednesday, Hefford says she expects to talk with the NHL about supporting or creating a more viable professional league.

“In my experience, you absolutely need the infrastructure and those resources [of the NHL],” Hefford told Kaplan. “I don’t know if it’s just about dollars. You’ve got to have that platform; the infrastructure part is really important. We found that out with the CWHL.

“It’s not about someone coming in and saying, ‘X amount of dollars and I want to run a pro league.’ We’re looking for something that is a long-term solution. Sustainable, viable, all of those things. But ultimately it’s all about the five-or six-year-old-girl right now, and what does she have to aspire to when she’s 18 or 19 or 20 or post-college?”

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