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NWHL Re-brands as Premier Hockey Federation, or PHF

Women’s hockey is never, ever boring.

NHL: MAR 30 Devils at Bruins Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s a lovely post-labor day.

The sun is out, there’s a good wind, if you’re taking an extra long weekend then it’s probably good sailing weather!

But in women’s hockey, any offseason means an explosion of change, and in an olympic year? It’s already been a huge one:

  • Actual superhuman Marie Philippe Poulin scored Canada’s game winning goal at the re-started world championships so fast and so well it took everyone a minute to even notice, bringing Canada their first gold medal at the event in years.
  • The US national team is kind of in shambles after World’s: the defense looks like swiss cheese and the US coaches left valuable and young talent on the bench or at home for unknown and inscrutable reasons, and have less than a few months to try and set everything straight before the games matter for something again.
  • Japan got this close to being a Top 5 hockey nation (officially anyway, they’re already lightyears ahead of the Czechs and the Swiss, themselves rising powers) were it not for an untimely point for their offense to go cold. They will be headed to Beijing to cause havoc in the women’s tournament, and possibly get a chance, an outside chance, but a chance, to medal at the event.

...and now, the National Women’s Hockey League has officially rebranded. There is never, ever a dull moment.

This news was dropped at an ungodly hour by friend of the site Marisa Ingemi who has long been covering the league:

So yeah! That happened! They also apparently have a new logo!

It isn’t great!

Wait, why did that happen?

Great question! There are some theories regarding this peculiar and out-of-nowhere decision, especially given the steady amount of positive buzz the brand has been building for the past few years, none of whom are especially substantial, but all of them are equally valid in this theorycrafting space:

  • As the PHF plans to expand further into Canada, there are rumors of a long-running legal dispute over who exactly owns the rights to the name “National Women’s Hockey League” and “NWHL” in Canada (from the previous league that formed in 1999), and it is unknown if anyone has settled this dispute or if anything at all came from it. As a result, this could be a bit of a painful but otherwise useful way to avoid legal trouble while adding some more teams whilst moving west and north-french in Canadaland.
  • In the event of the NHL finally moving ahead with using a “WNHL” trademark, something it’s repeatedly said it would not do unless there was one unified league (there is not) it would be a way for the league to differentiate itself from it’s competition, if it ever came to it.
  • It could be a way to lure players from the PWHPA away by giving the brand impression that they are in fact a “top league” in the sport, something that has been disputed several times over by PWHPA players and staff over the years.
  • Alternatively, it could be part of the low-key pissing contest both PWHPA and PHF have been waging since the PHF’s inception because [REASONS WAY, WAY, WAAAAAAY TOO LONG AND MESSY FOR AN ANNOUNCEMENT POST. WE’LL MAKE A SPECIAL OUT OF IT, I SWEAR]
  • It’s easier to register PHF.com rather than NWHL.zone or whatever url they were using beforehand.
  • They had the crown logo and really, really, really wanted to use it.

The official reason given in the promotional materials is that, in a league that has not just featured purely womens athletes, they no longer see a reason to purely . While this is an admirable change to give the “Hockey is for Everyone” creed a big boost, it does however have a bizarre amount of symbolism added to certainly remind people that women are the predominant demographic in the league, and this choice came suspiciously close given the transphobia scandal that rocked the Toronto Six’s Digit Murphy, as many pointed out. Further, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of talk on whether or not the NWHLPA actually agreed to it or not.

Anyhow, if it ends up being true or a marketing push, it’s gonna be something to get the rest of the league talking. As of right now, it looks like it’s just going to affect the tiny logo on the front of the sweaters of the teams; your championship winning Pride are safe.

So! What do you think is the league’s reason for a rebrand?