NWHL teases expansion to Toronto, Montreal next season

NEWARK, N.J. — Right as the press was being allowed on the ice at the Isobel Cup Final to interview the players, the NWHL game broadcast unleashed a bombshell that lit the women’s hockey universe on fire.


Those Canadian flags are planted on the cities of Toronto and Montreal.

When asked – in person – for comment, NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan exercised plausible deniability. “I did not see the broadcast,” said Rylan with a grin. “180 women graduated NCAA DI colleges this year and it only makes sense that there’s a place for them to play when they’re done and get paid for being the best at what they do.”

Consider the gauntlet thrown.

If this is the NWHL’s plan, it is a big one, and one that will no doubt bother CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress. The CWHL has teams in Montreal, Toronto, and Brampton, a suburb of Toronto. 

It’s not like this is the first time the NWHL has crept into established CWHL turf. The Isobel Cup champion Boston Pride were founded on what is now the ashes of the CWHL’s Boston Blades. 

(A request for comment was sent to the CWHL very late Saturday night. At the time of publication, the league had not yet responded.)

One thing feels certain. It’s highly – HIGHLY – unlikely this is part of any merger between the two women’s leagues. Partnership of this magnitude appears unthinkable. The two could barely come to an agreement on playing an exhibition game.

More on this story as it develops because NO ONE saw this coming. Trying to get the Minnesota Whitecaps into the fold? Yes. Expanding to Canada? No.