Apartment hunting and house swapping: How PWHLers are prepping for life in a new league

Apartment hunting and house swapping: How PWHLers are prepping for life in a new league


As the PWHL aims to launch a six-team league that’s ready to begin play in January, teams and players are navigating all the logistics involved with starting a league from scratch.

Players, teams navigating a variety of logistics ahead of league’s January puck drop

Karissa Donkin · for CBC Sports


A female hockey player wearing a red Czechia jersey raises her arms in celebration. Her teammates are visible behind her on the bench.

Defender Dominika Lásková celebrates during the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship. She was drafted by Montreal in the PWHL’s inaugural draft last month. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

When the calendar turns to November, Dominika Lásková will find herself in at least four different countries over two weeks.

The versatile defender, who can also play forward, is playing with Luleå in the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL) before travelling to Montreal, where she’ll compete for a spot in the Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) when training camp opens on Nov. 15. Montreal drafted her in the 4th round (19th overall) in the PWHL’s inaugural draft last month.

In between, there will also be a stop in Germany to play a handful of games with the Czechia national team, and home to Prague to pack up a few things.

Lásková will be staying in a hotel during Montreal’s training camp, but where she’ll be living after that remains a mystery — a question she’s trying to answer from several time zones away.

“It’s kind of hard to get housing for just six months and find it from Europe,” Lásková said in an interview earlier this week from northern Sweden.

“Some websites don’t even let you to reach out because it kind of gets that you’re in Europe and you’re looking for six months. It’s kind of odd timing … we still haven’t found anything, but I’m sure something’s going to work out eventually.”

As the PWHL aims to launch a six-team league that’s ready to begin play in January, teams and players are navigating all the logistics involved with starting a league from scratch.

At last month’s draft, players found themselves in a position where they could be selected by any team. It was a change from drafts in previous women’s hockey leagues, where it wasn’t uncommon for players to stay in cities where they already had ties and second jobs.

It means the league has an influx of players who are all looking for a new address at once.

They’ve gotten help with apartment hunting from their agent, Paul Macchia, and team staff in Montreal, but the players are contending with a few unknowns. They haven’t signed contracts yet and don’t know when the season will end, for example. They’re also looking for a furnished apartment, since both are coming from Europe.

“We have to go with it, and I’m super excited to join [the PWHL],” said Lásková, who won a championship last season with the Toronto Six in the now-defunct Premier Hockey Federation.

“I’m pretty sure it’s going to be great for women’s hockey. But in this kind of sense, it’s starting to be a little stressful for both me and Tereza, because it’s kind of like we’ve been calling each other almost every day trying to find an apartment. As international players, it’s not easy to just get something done.”

League provides monthly housing stipend

Players who sign in the PWHL have one advantage that players who came before them could only dream about.

The collective bargaining agreement between the league and players’ union guarantees players a monthly housing stipend of $1,500 US — about $2,000 Canadian.

Not only did a monthly housing stipend not exist when Jayna Hefford played in the now-shuttered Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL), but the league didn’t pay players anything for most of its existence.

WATCH | Hefford discusses PWHL with CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux:

Jayna Hefford on what will make the PWHL different than previous pro women’s leagues

Featured VideoCBC Sports’ Devin Heroux sits down with the PWHL’s SVP of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford after their announcement of the founding six franchises.

Hefford said the stipend was really important to the players who negotiated the collective bargaining agreement, which ensures PWHL players will make an average of $55,000 US.

“So many people think that this whole league was just about players getting paid and it’s so much more than that,” said Hefford, who is now the PWHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations.

“It’s the infrastructure, the resources that get put into this, and the salaries will grow. So understanding that salaries aren’t as big as everybody might want, how could we bump that comp package? So you really have to look at the whole comp package.”

Hefford said the league has an agreement with a real estate company that allows players to log on to a private website to search for housing options. Players can input how much they’d like to pay and how much space they’re looking for.

“It identifies realtors in the market that they can reach out to who have boots on the ground in all of our markets, and then they specialize in short-term leases — furnished, unfurnished opportunities,” Hefford said, saying it’s similar to agreements the company has with other professional sports leagues. Hefford has also heard of some players house swapping with each other.

For players who sign contracts, the league also must cover the cost of relocation up to $2,500, according to the collective bargaining agreement. Hefford said the league also pays for an additional two weeks in a hotel after a player signs, which can give them time to find a permanent place to live.

“There’s players that are coming just to try out and if they earn a contract, maybe it becomes a bigger concern for them at that point,” Hefford said. “So we’ll continue to work with them and make sure that they find something suitable.”

Life on the bubble

That includes players like Lindsey Post, who received an invite to New York’s camp. She’ll be competing with three other goalies for a job.

Post has been living at home in Chelsea, Que., while she waits for training camp to start, finding ice time where she can in a men’s beer league. The former University of Alberta goaltender spent the last four seasons playing in Sweden, but decided the time was right to try to make a return to North America.

A hockey player with a white and blue jersey skates toward a goalie wearing a black jersey.

Lindsey Post, right, played for SDE of the Swedish Women’s Hockey League last year. She’s competing for a job with PWHL New York this season. (SDE/Facebook)

“I’ve always wanted to play hockey professionally and be in the best league in the world,” Post said in an interview.

She knows she’ll be staying in a hotel in Connecticut, where the team will be based, during training camp.

But Post, a former SDHL goaltender of the year, isn’t sure how long she’ll be staying. It means she’ll be playing a guessing game when she packs her bags and embarks on the seven-and-a-half hour drive next month.

“It is really tricky for all those players, myself included, that are just on the bubble whether they see you as a good fit or if they don’t,” Post said.

“It’s very stressful.”


Karissa Donkin is a journalist in CBC’s Atlantic investigative unit. You can reach her at [email protected].

    Read More

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.