The National Women's Hockey League announced that they are expanding into Toronto on Wednesday. The move will feature an unnamed franchise led by an ownership group that includes former Harvard captain Johanna Boynton. In addition, former Brown head coach Margaret "Digit" Murphy will served as the team president and five players have been signed to contracts, according to a press release.
"Launching our first team in Canada is a pivotal and proud moment for the NWHL," league founder and commissioner Dani Rylan said in the statement.
The NWHL will now have six teams as it continues to grow women's hockey in Canada. This move comes after the Canadian Women's Hockey League disbanded after 12 seasons in May 2019.
In addition to the upcoming, unnamed team in Toronto, the league features teams in Boston, Buffalo, Monmouth Junction (New Jersey), Danbury (Connecticut) and Saint Paul.
"Toronto is without question the sports capital of Canada," Toronto Mayor John Tory added. "The addition of a Toronto team for the National Women's Hockey League is most welcome by our city and one that I know many Torontonians will embrace as they have with all of our other sports teams. Our city has a rich history with professional women's hockey and we are excited to begin this next chapter with the NWHL. I hope that this team achieves success and longevity in our city and that this team will serve as an inspiration for young girls to pursue careers in professional sports."
Among the players that the Toronto franchise signed are Shiann Darkangelo, who was on the 2016 world championship United States team. The other four hail from Canada: defenseman Kristen Barbara, goalie Elaine Chuli, defenseman Emma Greco and forward Taylor Woods.
Murphy played a large role in helping to sign these players.
"I'm delighted to be part of the first NWHL franchise in Canada because it brings me back to my roots," Murphy told the Associated Press. "A year ago, when the CWHL shut down, they had one of the best hockey products on the market. So I just see this as a continuation of that, and Toronto deserves a women's franchise."
It's expected that the NWHL won't be able to sign players from the current rosters of the Canadian and United States national teams.