Landmark contract for Toronto Six’s Daryl Watts takes PHF’s prestige another notch higher
By Ryan Hobart10 months ago
It feels like every few months, the Premier Hockey Federation (PHF) sets a new, increased pace for its own growth. Heading into this season, not only did the league add a new franchise and a more-than-doubling of the salary cap, but the record for a women’s hockey contract was set by the Buffalo Beauts’ (formerly Toronto Six’s) Mikyla Grant-Mentis. Then a couple of months into the season, the league announced another increase, properly double, from $750,000 to $1,500,000.
That record has now been smashed by the Toronto Six with the signing of Daryl Watts for $150,000 (in USD!) for this year and the 2023-24 season. We already saw her suit up for the Six in last weekend’s games against the Connecticut Whale, as they fight for their first 1st place finish and Isobel Cup. At the time of the announcement of her signing, it wasn’t yet known just how massive the deal was. It was Watts herself who disclosed her salary to media outlets. From the CBC article by Donna Spencer, she says,
“I’m disclosing this because women’s hockey has been struggling for so long” Watts said. “I’m so grateful and fortunate to be the recipient of this historic contract.“It’s my duty, almost, to the women’s hockey community, to share this contract, provide clarity into what the women’s pro hockey atmosphere looks like right now.“This is a staggering number. It sends the message to young girls who play hockey that they can look forward to a pro women’s league where they have the opportunity to make a really significant amount of money to support themselves while playing the sport they love.“I’m also disclosing this because I hope this will attract other players, which will then accumulate into the establishment of one single professional women’s hockey league.”
As the only professional women’s hockey league in North America at present, the PHF is a signal light for the future of women’s hockey as a whole. While the PWHPA still maintains membership from some of the best hockey players in the world, not limited to the likes of Hilary Knight and Marie-Philippe Poulin, they’ve yet to get the league they are working towards, which they previously announced would have started this month. I trust that those involved with the PWHPA are still working tirelessly toward the best path forward for the players involved in that organization, but until that comes to fruition, the PHF is here, and it’s shining bright.
Who is Daryl Watts?
If you’re like me and haven’t had the chance to follow college-level women’s hockey, let me bring you along on my journey of discovering the excellence that Watts can bring to the PHF and the Six.
The former Wisconsin Badger and BC Eagle is listed by Elite Prospects as the 5th highest scorer in NCAA Div. I history for women’s hockey. She finished with 297 in 172 games. She also won the Patty Kazmier Award (affectionately shortened to the “Patty Kaz”) as a freshman, the award presented to the top player in women’s hockey that season. In that freshman campaign she scored a whopping 82 points in 38 games.
With the NCAA being the primary source of talent for both the North American Olympics teams and the PHF, having that level of production puts her quite easily among the best women’s hockey players in the world right now. So, why haven’t we seen her at the Olympics?
She was left off Team Canada’s Olympics centralization group – the shortlist of players that Canada chose from to make up its final team for the Olympics. This was a bit of a surprise to TSN’s Cheryl Pounder:
“They are young, and they do represent that offensive gift to put the puck in the net,” Pounder said about [Loren] Gabel [now with the Boston Pride] and [Daryl] Watts. “They’re two players that I’m surprised were left off.”
Regardless of national team spots, Daryl Watts is a shining star for women’s hockey in Canada and it’s a delight to see her join the rapidly growing PHF.
What can we expect from her?
Having been away from the game for over a year, there’s some rust to work off, no doubt. But she’s already on the points column, with an assist on the opening goal in her first PHF game, a 7-4 offensive explosion against Connecticut this past Saturday. She was listed as playing on the 4th line, but she moved around a bit through the roster as head coach Geraldine Heaney tried to find the best place for her.
I think, medium term, the plan is probably to have her join Brittany Howard’s line, as there hasn’t been a good fit there yet. Brooke Boquist is playing there currently, but she has just 2 points in 12 games, along side a linemate with 15 goals in 14 games.
Long term, going into next season, her and the rest of the Six’s offense stand a great chance of building something great in the PHF.
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