As the KeyArena undergoes a major renovation and a new NHL hockey team is built for the venue, another effort has also begun. NWHL to Seattle aims to bring women’s hockey to the Northwest.
“Followers of women’s hockey in the United States are on the rise thanks to the success of Team USA at the last Winter Olympics, the excitement surrounding women’s collegiate and professional hockey, the exhilaration from female Olympic and professional players participating in the NHL All-Star Game, and now from the World Championships in Finland,” said NWHL to Seattle spokesperson Kelly Stephen Tysland.
“These factors, plus the frenzy that the new NHL men’s team is bringing to our city, makes it the perfect time for women’s professional hockey to expand into Seattle.”
Tysland is also a U.S. women’s ice hockey Olympian from Shoreline. She won a bronze medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, as well as IIHF World Women’s Championship medals in 2004 and 2005.
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The grassroots campaign officially launched Monday morning and is dubbed “NWHL to Seattle.” Its initial goal is to build community support for a women’s hockey team in Seattle. The group aims to start conversations with the league over the next few months, while also forming an ownership group and financial backing. If successful, Seattle could have the first West Coast team in the NWHL.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish a women’s professional hockey team in Seattle with a strong ownership group and media coverage in place,” Tysland said. “As we work toward that objective, we’re beginning by producing NWHL to Seattle gear that has a dual purpose—helping fans show their support of the campaign while also providing funding for promotional activities. Another intermediate step will be working to bring/host an NWHL All-Star game to the city prior to the NWHL Seattle’s inaugural season.”
“We believe Seattle can become a hub for training hockey players — both women and men,” she said. “The professional players will serve as role models for up-and-coming players and the new world-class facilities will provide more access and opportunity to develop future college, professional, and Olympic athletes. Fostering a hockey hub in Seattle will keep talent in the Pacific Northwest and enable players to stay in the area to continue their professional careers, both on and off the ice.”
We are launched! Join us as we unite and amplify the community’s interest in bringing a @NWHL women’s pro hockey team to Seattle! Learn more at https://t.co/OZ9f0AiMEP and help us spread the word! #womenshockey #NWHL #NWHLtoSeattle #myfirstTweet pic.twitter.com/6reoOsv2oy
— NWHLtoSeattle (@NWHLtoSeattle) April 15, 2019
According to the NWHL website, there are currently five teams in the four-year-old league. The league has nearly 100 players who are paid a salary. The website further notes:
All NWHL players are college graduates. While playing professional hockey, the majority of the women are pursuing careers or furthering their education. On the rosters of NWHL teams are teachers, medical professionals, engineers, financial analysts, coaches and trainers, marketing and communications executives, and entrepreneurs. Team practices are at night and games are most commonly on the weekends so players can balance their business and hockey careers. The league strives to be the embodiment of the Declaration of Principles created by the NHL in 2017 and signed by the NWHL, other professional leagues, national programs and collegiate hockey associations.
The NHL approved a new hockey team for Seattle in late 2018. The new team has yet to be named, but what it known is that it is expected to take the ice in the 2021-2022 season. In addition to the KeyArena venue, a new 140-000 square-foot facility in Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood has been approved for the team’s practices.