BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest on the ownership and control of the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts women’s hockey team (all times local):
The owner of the Buffalo Beauts has given control of the team back to the National Women’s Hockey League in a move that could further jeopardize the future of the only remaining women’s professional hockey league in North America.
Pegula Sports and Entertainment and the NWHL announced the decision Wednesday.
Kim Pegula, president and CEO of Pegula Sports and Entertainment, thanked both the players and staff of the Beauts and the fans for their support. Pegula says in a statement that their main goal has always been fostering the growth of women’s hockey and will keep looking for ways to successfully grow the women’s game.
The NWHL thanked Pegula Sports for overseeing the Beauts the past two seasons. Commissioner Dani Rylan says they appreciate the organization’s ongoing commitment to advance hockey at all levels.
This move comes after more than 200 players announced last week that they would not play in North America this year without what they say needs to be a single, economically viable professional league for women.
The owner of the Buffalo Beauts gave up control of the team Wednesday in a move further jeopardizing the future of the National Women’s Hockey League as it struggles to keep its five franchises afloat, and without the support of the world’s top players.
A person with direct knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press Beauts owner Kim Pegula informed NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan of her decision during a conference call Tuesday. The discussion was considered Rylan’s final opportunity to change the owner’s mind, the person said.
The person spoke to The AP on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced.
The person said the NWHL will re-assume control of the franchise, but will have to renegotiate facility fees if the league intends for the Beauts to continue playing at the Pegula-owned HarborCenter.
Last week, more than 200 players announced they would not play in North America this year without what they say needs to be a single, economically viable professional league for women. The group included a number of Beauts players, including U.S. national team defenseman Emily Pfalzer and Canadian national team goalie Shannon Szabados.
The NWHL has said it plans to hold a fifth season this fall but has now lost one of its most influential private backers.