Monday, January 30, 2023
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‘This is a great moment for women’s hockey.’ Daryl Watts becomes highest paid PHF player with $150,000 salary


New Toronto Six forward Daryl Watts wasn’t shy about revealing her salary Wednesday for next season, double the previous record for highest paid player in the Premier Hockey Federation.

Her $150,000 (U.S.) salary for the 2023-24 season is the most for a player in women’s professional hockey.

“I think the main reason why I’m releasing it is because women’s hockey has been struggling for so long,” said Watts, the 23-year-old Toronto native who is a former U.S. college star with Boston College and the Wisconsin Badgers.

“And now the PHF and its owners have established a salary cap of $1.5 million (twice as much as this season’s cap) which is remarkable … so I’m releasing it because this is a great moment for women’s hockey and also women’s sports. I wanted to thank the owners for providing an opportunity for players like myself, to earn a very good living playing the sport we love.”

Watts, who signed last week with the Six for the remainder of this season, spent most of Wednesday conducting interviews with the media and explaining her willingness to discuss her salary openly.

Watts’ salary for next season — which works out to just over $200,000 Canadian — would double last winter’s record-setting $80,000 (U.S) salary for Mikyla Grant-Mentis of the Buffalo Beauts.

The new salary cap, announced in December, meant the potential for a living salary for players, many of whom work day jobs. Their teams schedule practices either early in the morning or in the evenings, to accommodate work and commute schedules.

Watts was contemplating a career in commercial real estate after moving on from U.S. college hockey in 2021. She won the 2018 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in the nation, and finished with the second most career points in women’s college hockey.

While working with a private equity commercial real estate firm this summer, Watts was all but ready to return to Wisconsin in September, where she had been accepted to the Madison Commercial Real Estate Masters program.

“It was seven days before classes started for the Masters program,” Watts said. “I told my parents that commercial real estate wasn’t a path I wanted to commit to at this moment. I started pursuing other options, and once I found out the salary cap in the PHF doubled to $1.5 million the conversation with my family was playing women’s hockey is now a viable financial decision. At 23, the money that I can make solely playing hockey will support a great lifestyle.

“Hockey is my first love, I’ve loved it from the time I was three years old, and I want to pursue hockey not only because it’s my love, but because it makes sense financially.”

Watts — like Grant-Mentis — hopes her salary opens doors for future players, and for elite players around the world to join the PHF. Three of the last five Kazmaier winners — Watts, Loren Gabel and Élizabeth Giguère of the Boston Pride — now play in the PHF.

The league’s all-star game makes its first ever stop in Toronto this weekend at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.

The league announced its all-star captains Wednesday: Madison Packer (Metropolitan Riveters) for Team USA, Kaleigh Fratkin (Boston Pride) for Team Canada, and Kateřina Mrázová (Connecticut Whale) for Team World.

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