Four Things We’re Eager To See In the 2021-2022 PHF Season

We’re back on the ice starting Saturday.

By Alexandra Cadet

The PHF is back and better than ever on Saturday for the 2021-2022 season. There were plenty of reformations in the past year that rightfully generated buzz for the league’s return (such as its rebranding and refurbishment of policies in order to be more welcoming of their transgender and non-binary athletes). However, that’s not quite all there is to get excited about. Here are four things for die-hard fans and newcomers alike to get pumped about in the PHF’s 2021-22 season.

New Management

Late last year, the PHF announced that they were offering teams up to any joint venture models that were interested in ownership. True to their word, the league had sold off all of their franchises mere months later, with the Buffalo Beauts and Minnesota Whitecaps being taken over by NLTT Ventures, LLC in June. For all of the potential flaws of private ownership, the PHF’s new model will probably lead to more money, attention, and time being invested into the six teams, as evidenced by the passion that some of the owners have shown for the league. There are still some kinks to iron out––for example, BTM Partners now owns half the teams in the league, possibly creating a conflict of interest––but for now, this change is both an exciting and welcome one. 

The Draft Picks

Each team was able to expand their roster during the 2021 PHF Draft. The Pride scooped up Olympic medal-winning Evelina Raselli, who could end up being a valuable addition to their already-fearsome forward line. The Six showed up and showed out, taking the lion’s share of the first rounders in the 2021 draft. They were quickly declared the winner of the draft by fans and sportswriters alike, but it’ll be up to head coach Mark Joslin to make them a well-oiled machine rather than a hodge-podge of superstars. Elsewhere, the Whale snagged first-overall pick Taylor Girard, who is exactly the kind of young upstart they need to make their team finally click. Of course, the effectiveness of the teams’ respective grabs remains to be seen. Now, the pressure is on all of these athletes to deliver in the upcoming season––and hopefully provide some great entertainment in the process.

The Juicy, Juicy Narratives

A benefit of the small size of the PHF is that each team gets a decent amount of spotlight; as always, with this spotlight comes the assignment of capital-N Narratives. Will the Whale finally pull it together after a tumultuous 2020-2021 season, or will their lack of consistency doom them in the end? The Pride might be the current title holders, but will they choke on the lofty expectations surrounding them? Is the Toronto Six actually a force to be reckoned with, or was everyone fooled by the fact that they’ve only played six games? There are plenty of big questions to be answered in Season 7, and Saturday can’t come soon enough.

An ESPN+ Deal

The wait is over: the PHF finally got a streaming deal, and their broadcasting partner is none other than ESPN+. This was announced in late October––just in time for the upcoming season––on the back of five months of intense negotiations. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the PHF and most importantly for our athletes who deserve the exposure that a major network can provide,” said Tyler Tumminia, the PHF’s commissioner. “Partnering with ESPN+ is a significant step in our history as we continue to grow the sport with a platform that will introduce our new era to a larger audience with an enhanced standard for how our games will be delivered.”

This ESPN+ deal serves as a massive upgrade on the PHF’s strategy of streaming matches on Twitch. Now, Twitch isn’t completely useless when it comes to broadcasting games. It certainly works well for niche sports such as roller derby, but it can’t quite measure up to the PHF’s mainstream aspirations. And, judging by their rapidly increasing subscriber count, it doesn’t get more mainstream than ESPN+. This deal is a huge boon for the league, and with any luck, the PHF’s 7th season will be its biggest yet.

A full schedule of the upcoming PHF season can be found here.

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