NWHL’s Riveters Score Major Partnership with New Jersey Devils

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The National Women’s Hockey League has finally received some support from the world’s largest ice hockey organization, the National Hockey League.


Now in its third season of operation, the NWHL, the top-tier women’s ice hockey league in professional sports, got a boost as the New York Riveters announced a partnership with the New Jersey Devils on October 5th. The deal includes a team re-branding as the team makes its move across the Hudson River to Prudential Center in Newark to become the Metroplitan Riveters. The contract will run for the next three years and could very well be what saves the Riveters — and the league as a whole.


Significance of the Deal

New York Riveters’ forward Brooke Ammerman (L) dodges Boston Pride forward Corinne Buie in NWHL action at the Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The partnership is groundbreaking as it is the first agreement between the NHL and a the NWHL to promote the women’s game. It is very possible other NHL teams could follow suit and partner with a women’s franchise. As the female sports fan demographic continues to grow, an NHL-NWHL partnership can increase hockey’s draw to include women. But the growing female hockey fanbase isn’t the only reason the deal can benefit both sides.


The NWHL’s player salaries were cut more than half during the 2016-17 season. The league’s players earned between $10,000 and $26,000 at the beginning. But after the cut, some players received what amounted to part-time salaries. The players’ contracts are held by the league, too, not by its teams, as it hopes to provide centralized stability.


According to ESPN.com, the partnership allows the Riveters access to New Jersey’s marketing and training facilities at no cost, and the franchise can also learn how the Devils’ front office staff prepares for gamedays. In exchange, the Riveters have agreed to take New Jersey’s famed red and black color scheme.


One of the big events already planned between the two hockey teams is a doubleheader taking place on October 28. That day will see the Riveters play the Boston Pride with the Devils hosting the Arizona Coyotes immediately following the NWHL game. The Prudential Center will play host to both highly anticipated events.


Does Women’s Hockey Have a Chance?

It is easy to be negative about the NWHL’s future. In late 2015, the teams averaged just 900 fans per game. The league only has four teams currently – the Metroplitan Riveters, Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride and the Connecticut Whale – and all are located in the United States’ Northeast. The Riveters’ partnership with the Devils could see an increase in attendance, however, as more and more hockey fans become aware of the women’s league.


With the number of female athletes in the U.S., it is easy to believe there is a strong market for women’s sports. However, that seems like an overstatement. In the United States, the strongest female sport is soccer and the U.S. has won three Women’s World Cups. Yet, the country is on its third women’s professional soccer league since 1999.


Just two seasons ago, women’s basketball fans believed the WNBA was headed out of business. Things have improved in the last two seasons fortunately and hockey pundits are hoping for more of the same on the ice.


Members of the New York Riveters (NWHL) pose for a group photo at Aviator Sports & Events Center on September 16, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Riveters just announced a groundbreaking deal with the New Jersey Devils to play games at Prudential Center in Newark. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The deal with the Devils should improve the women’s game greatly, and for hockey fans’ sake, will hopefully keep the league afloat. The salaries probably won’t improve, and despite many saying women should be paid more, the athletes are truly only worth what people will pay to watch a game, or what sponsors will pay.
At the very least, the NWHL and the Riveters have received some much-needed publicity. The recent press may be enough to see a spike in attendance the next time the puck drops.


Written by Drew Farmer / @DrewMFarmer
Special to HockeyClan


Main Image: The New York Riveters, one of four teams competing in the first season of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), warm up before their game against Boston Pride at the Aviator Sports and Events Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. on October 18, 2015. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

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