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Boston goaltender Emma Soderburg lines up with teammates before a PWHL game
Photo credit: PWHL

Pittsburgh Expresses Interest in PWHL, Can A Women's Hockey League Work in the Burgh?

Published January 23, 2024 at 12:19
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The PWHL has had record attendance, remarkable television viewership, and a fiercely competitive product on the ice in its first season. And the Pittsburgh Penguins are among the NHL teams who are already paying attention.

Kevin Acklin, the Penguins' head of business operations, told The Athletic, "We like the initial reports on the excitement and on the attendance numbers." "Our ultimate goal is to host a club here in Pittsburgh in the future, and we have expressed our interest in doing so."

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The League launched in January with six teams, Toronto, Montreal, Minnesota, Ottawa, New York and Boston. The PWHL has expressed interest in expansion, but want to get things set up and done right with the Original Six.


Stan Kasten, a member of the PWHL advisory board, said on an episode of «The Bob McCown Podcast» last week:

«Sure, we'd like to get bigger, we'd like to get stronger, but first we have to get established, and that's what this shortened year is about.»

Kevin Acklin Expresses a 'Bullish' Outlook on Woman's Hockey and Wants Pittsburgh to be a Part of It



In previous years, the Penguins have hosted Professional Women's Hockey Players Association events. One particular event was the Rivalry Rematch between team Canada and USA after returning from the Beijing Olympics.

The Penguins «would have been at the front of the list,» had a league been formalized under the NHL umbrella, said Acklin.

The Penguins were a part of the NHL first expansion 1967, and Acklin's feels like it will be poetic justice for Pittsburgh.

«It's worked well for us in the NHL.» «We're happy at least that there is a league, because there's been so much battling in the past — and certainly we want to be a part of it,» he added. «Our charge is to figure out how best to continue to support the growth of the game and the league until we're able to launch our own club here in Pittsburgh.»

Despite any potential hurdles, the Penguins have already discussed the team colors (black and gold of course), and nicknames for the team. Bringing back the 'Pittsburgh Pennies' name, which was the cities first women's hockey club in 1972, was also discussed.

Sidney Crosby currently has a big involvement with the Little Penguins Learn To Play program, that has actually helped produced NHL level players. This program provides free equipment to boys and girls in Pittsburgh, but the team feels more can be done.

As Acklin stated,
I think even Sid would agree that it would be great if girls who want to play hockey here had a women's player they idolized — somebody they could see themselves becoming one day.»



From Amanda Kessel, in her first year as special assistant to the GM to Katherine Wu, their senior data manager, the Penguins have taken steps to place women in important roles in the organization under Kyle Dubas.

Acklin and the Penguins really feel like this is something that will be successful in Pittsburgh. His final statement says it all:

«This will work in Pittsburgh.»

As Read On: The Athletic - Eyeing PWHL expansion, Penguins prepare for a women's team: ‘This will work in Pittsburgh'
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January 23   |   94 answers
Pittsburgh Expresses Interest in PWHL, Can A Women's Hockey League Work in the Burgh?

Do you think a Professional Women's Hockey League would be successful in Pittsburgh?

Yes5255.3 %
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