PHF Players See “Huge Opportunity” in the Name Change
NWHL Launches New Name, New Logo, New Identity to Recognize the Talent and Skill of the Players in a Gender-Neutral Way
On September 7, the National Women’s Hockey League became the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), signifying a monumental move in professional women’s sports by lifting the “W” from its name. Among those to enthusiastically embrace the change were the athletes, many of whom believe the rebrand sends the right message at the right time.
“We should be judged based on our skill and what we bring to the table, not based on our gender,” said Sammy Davis of the Boston Pride, who was the first overall draft pick in 2020. “This rebrand strategy speaks volumes about what women in sports and women, in general, are trying to do. We're trying to be seen for more than just being women.”
Metropolitan Riveters captain Madison Packer is an original member of the league and second-leading all-time scorer. “It’s important to get away from the narrative that, yeah, they’re good, but they’re ‘woman-good,’ she said. “Understanding that we can play the game, we can compete at a high level, this is about recognizing that regardless of gender, athletes are talented. That’s empowering as an athlete. You don’t have to label yourself as a female.”
“We don't need to have women in the title to make that a differentiator,” said Allie Thunstrom, forward for the Minnesota Whitecaps and co-MVP of the 2019-20 season. “We do happen to be women hockey players, but that doesn't make us a lesser subset to men.”
Toronto Six forward Mikyla Grant-Mentis, who had a phenomenal 2021 campaign winning MVP and Newcomer of the Year awards among her accolades, believes this is a huge step, not only for hockey but all of women’s sports. “Honestly, I love it, I'm for it. I like how we’ve gotten rid of the “W” and having to state that we are women. We should just be professional athletes, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
Buffalo Beauts goaltender Carly Jackson, who is among the league’s fan favorites and a NWHL Foundation Award recipient, emphasizes the inclusiveness of the new name. “First off, it's a really good message. Not all of us identify as women. Some people are non-binary, and some people identify in some other things. That opens the door for some of us to feel a little bit more comfortable.
“Yes, we are a professional women’s hockey league, absolutely. But I find that details like lifting the “W” out of the name make a big difference for people who identify as something different than a woman.”
Janine Weber of the Connecticut Whale was the first-ever player to sign a contract to play in the NWHL. The Austrian believes the new name has international appeal. “The word “federation” is all-encompassing, not just one about one country. The league aspires to be even more international than we already are. Hopefully, this also helps with getting a talent and skill from different countries.”
Packer agrees. “From an opportunity standpoint, it’s huge. There has been a lot of change in leadership at both the league level and team level over the last 12 months. All these leadership changes brought about new ideas and more change. Being first when making such a major change is bold, exciting, and can be rewarding.”
“I think you’re going to see a shift,” Packer added. “You’re going to see this across all sports in the next 3-5 years. It’s cool we’re doing it before other leagues. It’s good. It’s a way for us to get ahead and shake things up. It’s different, but it’s important.”
The logo offers a fresh look but still pays tribute to the NWHL by carrying over the stars from the original logo and including a subtle outline of a “W”.
“I'm really thrilled about the cleanness of the new logo,” said PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia. “I think it's elegant, yet sharp and powerful. And resting that “W” on top like that with a crown incorporates everything that we've been trying to do here to recognize our athletes for their talent and ability as equals in the sport.”
Jackson summed it up: “I’m really excited to represent our league.”