The New Jersey Devils are dissolving their relationship with the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League.
“Recognizing the current landscape, we believe the best way to support the future of women’s hockey is by reallocating our resources to focus strategically on grassroots initiatives that positively impact female youth hockey players in our area,” the Devils said in a statement Friday, “while leveraging our resources to help train, support and develop women’s hockey players competing at the highest levels.”
An NWHL spokesperson said the league had no comment at this time.
The Riveters played their home games last season at Barnabas Health Hockey House, the Devils’ training facility, and their home opener was played at the Prudential Center. The Riveters will not play games at either location next season, although the Devils said they will make ice time available at the Hockey House to women’s hockey players.
The NWHL still intends to have the Riveters play next season, but they will need to find a new place to play.
New Jersey was the first NHL team to delve into the business side of an NWHL franchise. As part of the partnership, the Devils promised to share their “vast resources in order to enhance the Riveters’ operation — including marketing, sales, events, game presentation and facilities.”
But two years later, there has been major upheaval in professional women’s hockey. This spring, more than 200 players — including stars like Team USA’s Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield and Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin — said they will not play in any professional league next season.
“We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game,” read a statement released by individual players on social media. “Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level.”
Earlier this month, the Pegula family, which owns the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, severed its relationship with the NWHL. Pegula Sports and Entertainment bought the Buffalo Beauts, and they were the only independently owned team in the five-member league. The NWHL said it will assume control of the franchise and intends to have a franchise in Buffalo next season.