NHL and NHLPA celebrate girls and women in hockey for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month

Celebrations will include a new grant, ongoing investments, and mentorship programs across U.S. and Canada.

NHL and NHLPA celebrate girls and women in hockey  for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month

NEW YORK/TORONTO (March 7, 2024) In recognition of Women’s History Month this March, and ahead of tomorrow’s International Women’s Day 2024 campaign, the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) reaffirm their commitment to girls’ and women’s hockey on the ice and behind the bench with investments in all 32 NHL Club markets, new funding opportunities for nonprofits committed to girls hockey, special events, and ongoing support of mentorship programs.

As part of their ongoing commitment to ensure girls and women have access to play hockey, the NHL and NHLPA’s Industry Growth Fund (IGF) continues to support all 32 NHL Clubs, providing grants to establish, or expand, female hockey programs across the U.S. and Canada. Over the past decade, $4.7 million has been invested in girls’ hockey initiatives, including funding for all 32 Clubs to host a Learn to Play program for first time hockey players, with females representing 20% of the programs’ participation in the U.S. and 38% in Canada.

As an additional investment in girls’ hockey to reduce barriers to play, NHL Foundation U.S., Inc. (NHL Foundation U.S.) is launching the Empowerment Grant Program for Girls Hockey (the Program) which will provide funding for leading nonprofits focused on making hockey accessible for all girls. The Program specifically aims to enhance access to hockey for underrepresented groups, ensuring a more inclusive environment where girls from various backgrounds can engage with the sport. Grants pursuant to the Program will recognize a nonprofit that exemplifies inclusivity and leadership within the hockey community, while expanding access to girls’ hockey. Potential nonprofit grantees will be determined with the guidance of Haley Skarupa, NHL Foundation U.S. ambassador, U.S. Olympic gold medalist and U.S. Women’s National Team head scout, as well as Kim Davis, President of NHL Foundation U.S. and NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. Funding will aid projects that are intended to have a lasting and significant impact on girls’ hockey development.

“When we look back at history, we’ll recognize the 2020 decade as one that transformed women’s sports and women in sports,” said Davis. “Where my generation was fortunate to have one or two female heroes playing the game or leading the business, we now have thousands of women making their mark and inspiring exponential growth through their work, their ideas, and the vision they have for the future of the game.”

On March 13, the NHL and NHLPA will host a Women in STEM Panel with Future Goals Hockey Scholar teachers and students. Last season, more than 2,800 students from more than 300 schools across the U.S. and Canada participated in the virtual Q&A session.

The NHL & NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee, which was established in 2019, continues its dedication to accelerating the growth of girls and women in hockey. The Committee is represented by women with a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in hockey including women from national governing bodies, youth hockey organizations, NHL Clubs, and the Professional Women’s Hockey League. This esteemed group oversees projects such as the Female Hockey Ambassador Grant Program, which provides funding to increase the presence of women at League and Club events, ensuring that young girls and boys see more female role models across the game. The Committee also guides the Equity Grant Program which provides funding to hire women for IGF programming. Moving forward, the Committee is committed to working with the PWHL on future collaborations.

“International Women’s Day celebrates how we as humans can work to build a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination, by celebrating diversity, equality and inclusivity,” said Maria Dennis, NHLPA Senior Director of Player Health and Safety & Senior Counsel, and the Chair of the NHL/NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee. “The Female Hockey Advisory Committee is looking forward to working closely with the Professional Women’s Hockey League to inspire all children to realize their dreams. By working together to break down the barriers and stereotypes that work against girls and women, the NHLPA seeks to be part of the positive change to achieve gender equality in hockey.”

Behind the bench and on the ice this season, 24 women the most ever participated in NHL Club training camps, development camps, and preseason games. This includes 13 who were part of the NHL Coaches’ Association’s Female Coaches Program, which first launched on International Women’s Day in 2020.

The NHL officiating department, in its pursuit for inclusion, provides development opportunities available to female officials through its Exposure Combine, as well as participation at NHL Rookie Tournaments where the 2024 tournament featured seven female officials, the most to-date.

Throughout the 2023-24 season, several events and initiatives have celebrated girls and women in hockey. At the 2024 NHL All-Star weekend festivities, the Canadian Tire PWHL 3-on-3 Showcase featured players from all six PWHL teams, an esteemed group who have won a combined 46 Olympic and 146 World Championship medals as well as 17 NCAA Division I Championships.

Additionally, as a legacy to the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series, the New Jersey Devils, Devils Youth Foundation and NHL launched the Jersey Girls Hockey Club, a recreational ice hockey league providing a space for girls ages 5 to 12 to continue playing hockey. Also, as part of the outdoor games in New Jersey, the Jersey Girls Hockey Club and the New York Rangers’ Girls Hockey League showcased their skills on NHL STREET rinks located on the field.

For more, visit NHL.com/WomensHistory. To join the conversation, use the hashtag #NHLWomensHistory.