While the world has faced many challenges directly resulting from the novel coronavirus, the sports industry was among those heavily impacted, halting the play of all sports at all levels. It saw leagues get creative with bubbles while others were forced to cancel games and shut down.
The same can be said for women’s hockey, only that the Dream Gap Tour concluded days before. However, with the state of women’s hockey unstable and the players partaking facing looming uncertainty, a small sigh of relief came on Thursday as Secret Deodorant announced a rather large sponsorship deal.
As per the official press release, the company has committed $1 million to fund year two of the Dream Gap Tour in 2021. As such, it becomes the largest ever to be made to North American professional women’s hockey.
Coinciding with this corporate commitment, the PWHPA unveiled additional plans, which includes six showcase events scheduled to take place. With that in mind, the $1 million commitment will see the women get paid with the incentive of cash prizes. As if that wasn’t enough, The Canadian Press adds that a Secret Cup will be awarded as well.
This is not the first time that Secret has partnered with the PWHPA. The brand was also a title sponsor for a six-game showcase which was held back in January. Known as the Secret Women’s Hockey Showcase, the tournament included six teams in a six-game showcase from Jan. 11-12.
The winnings teams, Team Spooner and Team Daoust, squared off in game six at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The Team Daoust Wildcats beat the Team Spooner Sharks. Coming off a year filled with such success, the staff and players alike were hoping to see continued success. That being said, plans for year two were stalled, allowing all to discuss how to safely move forward.
While a large chunk of that is the training hub structure, the other chunk is now credited to Secret. Speaking of this generous commitment and why it’s significant to their plans for the new year, Jayna Hefford said Thursday in a statement, “COVID-19 affected our positive momentum and threatened our upcoming season. We’re so thankful for Secret’s ongoing support of the PWHPA.”
Being the PA’s Operations Consultant, she has committed herself to the players, seeking both equality as well as viability. As this news gets them another step closer to that, Hefford has established five training hubs in which she’ll be allocating necessary resources to. At this time, the selected cities all have an arena, head coach and GM.
Given the new format for the season, rosters have since been finalized in both New Hampshire as well as Minnesota. The two have been playing exhibition games, hosted at their venues against USPHL teams. While Toronto and Montreal aren’t playing games yet, The Puck Authority has learned that both rosters are finalized.
Something new to this year’s layout is that players are required to tryout for each training hub. The rosters are built based on those trials, which has been conducted for several weeks in small cohorts. This of course in order to comply with the measures in place from public health experts for distancing.
Last season, the PA had eight training hubs, which saw players selected to tour rosters at random. These hubs included Minnesota, Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Tri-State and Buffalo. As such, with this model in place, that often saw rosters rotated from tour stop to tour stop. To enhance competition and focus, the new structure was built on player voices and insight.
In a statement from Lisa Reid, the Senior Brand Director for Secret Deodorant, she said of their commitment to women’s hockey, “As a brand committed to empowering and emboldening women, we can’t stand by and see gender equality unravel. Secret® proudly stands with the PWHPA and its players to fight for a new professional league to ensure all players – regardless of gender – are given the same chance and support to play.”