After leading as commissioner for five seasons and spending the sixth as the president of W Hockey Partners, the National Women’s Hockey League announced on Tuesday that Dani Rylan-Kearney has resigned from her position.
W Hockey Partners is the entity that owns and operates the Metropolitan Riveters, Minnesota Whitecaps, Connecticut Whale and Buffalo Beauts. Rylan first founded the league in 2015, when it made its inception. Doing so in the United States, it was the first professional women’s hockey league to offer its players a paying salary.
Since then, the league has added premiere sponsors and a pair of partners to help increase yearly revenue. This includes Twitch.tv, who they partnered with last season on a three-year contract. Now in their second season, the league and NWHLPA agreed to a 50/50 revenue-sharing deal.
Under the leadership of Dani Rylan, the league has been backed by Dunkin’ Donuts and has added two expansion teams in Canada and the U.S. This includes the Minnesota Whitecaps and the Toronto Six, who came about back in April. Being just two of six teams, Rylan also secured private ownership, having done so for the Six, Buffalo Beauts and Boston Pride. However, given the heated climate of women’s pro hockey, Kim and Terry Pegula relinquished control of the Buffalo Beauts after only two seasons.
The Boston Pride are owned by Miles Arnone, who is also an owner with the league’s first Canadian team. Joining him on Toronto’s ownership team is John and Johanna Neilson-Boynton, who work closely with the president and head coach, Digit Murphy.
Ty Tumminia joined Toronto as team chairman before she was promoted to the league’s interim commissioner. Tumminia made the move back in October after Rylan stepped down as part of a restructuring of the league’s governing model. Opting for a new direction, Rylan-Kearney confirmed she’d remain involved in a new capacity with control of four teams. She did so with the goal in mind of finding individual ownership groups for the league-controlled franchises.
Agreed upon with the Board of Governors, the league formed an incorporated association, with one board member in charge of overseeing each franchise. As previously stated by the league, the Board includes several investors, a few being Andy Scurto, Neil Leibman, Joel Leonoff and Scott McCormack.
When the ownership group opted to change the league’s governing model, they followed in the NHL’s footsteps, as they turned their attention towards selling all member clubs. Speaking at the time of Rylan’s leadership, Andy Scurto had stated about the founder’s drive and dedication, “We would like to thank Dani for her role in founding the League and bringing it to where it is today. Dani has made an enormous impact on women’s hockey and led the NWHL from inception through its first five seasons, setting the stage for the next phase of growth.”
Now, with Rylan-Kearney departing her post, Mike Murphy of The Ice Garden reports that Andy Scurto will take over as president of the W Hockey Partners ownership group. He’ll do so until a permanent president has been named by the league to take the reins for season seven. While a member of the Board of Governors, Scurto is also an insurance and tech entrepreneur.
Rylan’s exit comes two weeks prior to the league’s Championship Weekend being hosted in Boston. Being held March 26 and 27, the Isobel Cup Playoffs will take place at Warrior Ice Arena, the official practice home of the Boston Bruins. Organized to put a bow on season six, the postseason, presented by Discover, will consist of the Connecticut Whale, Minnesota Whitecaps, Boston Pride and Toronto Six.
Starting with the semifinals, Toronto and Boston will square off in the early game, with puck drop scheduled for 5:00pmET. Following that, Minnesota will face Connecticut, with puck drop scheduled for 8:00pmET. Those who come out victorious will then advance to the Isobel Cup Final. Hosted in Brighton, Massachusetts, the two will face off on prime time at 7:00pmET.
With all three games on NBCSN, it will mark the first time that women’s pro hockey will be carried live in the U.S. on a national cable network. As well, streams and coverage will be available on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com. Those based in Canada and overseas can stream all three games on Twitch.tv/NWHL.