PHF’s Tumminia on impact of new investment: ‘I think it’s a watershed moment’

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PHF commissioner Ty Tumminia. (Photo courtesy Tyler Tumminia)

After the announcement of a significant investment that will directly impact Premier Hockey Federation player salaries and benefits, PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia said she views Tuesday’s news as a landmark moment for women’s hockey.

The PHF made public the details of its board of governors’ investment earlier Tuesday — a $25-million infusion that will see $7.5 million directed toward the coming 2022-23 season — along with the wide-reaching impact of that added sum. The league’s salary cap will rise 150 per cent, from $300,000 to $750,000. Players will receive full healthcare benefits and 10 per cent equity in their teams. The league will add two more teams to the mix as well, expanding to Montreal and an American city yet to be revealed. Past that, the impact of the added funds will allow the PHF to update facilities, purchase new equipment, and expand their season to a 28-game schedule.

“I think it’s a watershed moment for athletes,” Tumminia said of the news Tuesday, speaking with Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Jeff Marek. “Not only our PHF athletes, but just women athletes in hockey in general. You know, this is an investment that supports everything that we all want to see, and that’s enhanced opportunities for the athlete to take the sport to the next level.”

The ability to offer full healthcare benefits, in particular, is an historic step forward for her league and sport, Tumminia said.

“That is our owners committing very loudly and strongly with their group investment to help with getting them to that next step, and that includes health benefits,” she told Marek. “I think it’s a game changer. You know, it’s never been done here in women’s hockey before, so I think it was imperative to do that and to offer that to the athletes.”

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The PHF has undergone plenty of changes during what’s been a transformative period for the league, with Tumminia at the centre of much of it.

In early 2020, the former baseball executive came over to the hockey world to take on a role with the newly-created Toronto Six’s front office. In October 2020, she was named the league’s interim commissioner. Tumminia announced the league was doubling its salary cap, from $150,000 to $300,000, in April 2021. By June, the PHF had sold all of its formerly league-operated teams to independent ownership groups. Tumminia shed the interim tag in August, becoming the permanent commissioner of the league, known at the time as the National Women’s Hockey League. In September, the league officially rebranded to the PHF.

Tuesday’s announcement represents the latest positive step in that transformation, the commissioner told Marek.

“We’ve spent the past 18 months truly just strengthening all facets of our organization,” Tumminia said, “with private ownership, office staff, team leadership, and redefining our league a couple of months ago through a rebrand. So, it’s definitely been an exciting new era for the last couple of months here.”

Among the most unique details announced Tuesday was the fact that players will be granted 10 per cent equity in their teams. According to Tumminia, the gesture is one aimed at moving the sport forward collectively.

“It’s basically saying, ‘Hey, look, we want to grow this together. We want you to be a part of it,'” Tumminia explained. “Oftentimes in sports, if you keep players on one side and ownership on the other side, you get this divide. What we’re saying here, what the owners are saying, is ‘We want you to be part of the fabric. We want you to grow this with us, and grow in the investment, and capitalize on the investment as well.'”

Listen to the full interview with PHF commissioner Tyler Tumminia and Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Jeff Marek via the audio player embedded in this post.

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