The National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) is no more... kinda.
The NWHL officially announced a rebrand today, renaming itself the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF)... seriously.
Check out the official announcement on the NWHL's...er PHF's... official Twitter account earlier today:
And here's the league's new logo:
Anyone else think that this new logo looks kind of unprofessional? I'm certain I could whip up something in Photoshop in an hour that would be an improvement. Bigger than that though, the name is just so bland and uninspiring. What was wrong with the NWHL? It was easy to remember, everyone was familiar with it and the league had spent five years building up a strong brand. This new name sounds like it's a new league and will only serve to further complicate the already complicated world of professional women's hockey.
“The Premier Hockey Federation is home to some of the best professional athletes in the world who deserve to be recognized for their abilities and to be empowered as equals in sport,” said PHF Commissioner Tyler Tumminia in a prepared statement. “This league has come a long way since its inception in 2015 and we believe that this is the right time and the right message as we strengthen our commitment to growing the game and inspiring youth.”
The league claims that its new name and logo "presents a modern identity with simplicity, versatility, and flexibility that pays tribute to the history of the NWHL". More than that, it seems the league was intent on removing the word "women" from their name, as to not misgender or limit themselves. Again though, I feel that only serves to muddy the waters. Right or not there's a built in understanding that most professional sports leagues are men's leagues, there's no need for them the NHL to call themselves the National Men's Hockey League, but unfortunately that's not the case for women's sports. To me, the Premier Hockey Federation sounds like a men's senior league in Northern Alberta or a low-level pro wrestling circuit in the American south... it doesn't exactly say "women's hockey" to me.
“This rebrand strategy speaks volumes about what women in sports and women, in general, are trying to do,” said Boston Pride sophomore forward Sammy Davis, the first overall pick in the 2020 NWHL Draft. “We're trying to be seen for more than just being women. It's important to be pioneers, to be first. Set the foundation and show people that it's okay to be different and it's okay to want change.”
I want to be supportive of this move, but frankly I feel this is a major mis-step for pro women's hockey.