PWHL Playoff Innovation

PWHL Playoff Innovation

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Top-seeded PWHL team will pick playoff opponent

The PWHL has created playoff innovation as they announced a unique playoff format Wednesday that requires the top-seeded club to select its first-round opponent.

The top four of the six teams in the league standings qualify for the postseason, which begins the week of May 6. The first seed will have a 24-hour window to choose between the third- and fourth-place team as its opponent.

Best of 5

Playoffs are scheduled to be two best-of-five rounds. Montreal paces the league standings with 24 points while Minnesota, Toronto, and Boston round out the top four entering play Wednesday.

The league also announced an innovative strategy to determine the 2024 draft order for teams outside the postseason. Once a team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it will begin to accrue “draft order points” using the league’s standard point system. The team with the most draft order points at the end of the season earns the first overall pick, while the runner-up receives the second selection.

The league announced earlier this week that the 2024 draft will be held in June.





The History

The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHLFrenchLigue professionnelle de hockey fémininLPHF) is a professional women’s ice hockey league in North America, wholly owned and operated by the Mark Walter Group. It consists of six franchises, three each from Canada and the United States, who play a regular season of matches to earn one of four places in a postseason tournament that determines the champion. Differences between the PWHL and other professional hockey leagues include a 3-2-1-0 points system, terminations of penalties following a short-handed goal, best-of-five shootouts, and greater restrictions on body checking. The league’s matches are broadcast nationally in Canada by the CBC and TSN, their French-language affiliates Radio-Canada and RDS, and Sportsnet. In the United States, it is broadcast in syndication, while worldwide it is streamed on YouTube.

One league folded, a new one emerged

The collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019 led to the establishment of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA), a non-profit organization that advocated for greater professionalism in women’s ice hockey. PWHPA members boycotted existing leagues, including the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF), with the goal of establishing a stable, unified professional league, and worked to build a collective bargaining agreement with Mark Walter and Billie Jean King Enterprises. The Mark Walter Group acquired the assets of the PHF following its 2022–23 season. Subsequently, the PWHPA worked with the Mark Walter Group to establish a unified league with new ownership and management. The league’s first draft took place in September 2023, and its first season began in January 2024.






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