But during the N.W.H.L.’s second season, the league incurred financial troubles, including lawsuits, and slashed player salaries, creating distrust from several top players. In a 2017 interview with The New York Times, Rylan Kearney acknowledged that it was more difficult than she envisioned to get major companies on board supporting women’s sports.
After many players left the N.W.H.L., Rylan Kearney secured partnerships with companies like Twitch that somewhat stabilized the league’s standing. The N.W.H.L. added franchises in Minnesota in 2018, and Toronto in April.
The N.W.H.L., which will begin its sixth season in January, will now turn to Tumminia to pursue the broadcast rights deals and partnerships with major brands that have largely eluded women’s hockey. The C.W.H.L. folded in 2019 because of economic troubles. The Canadian league operated as a centrally funded, nonprofit enterprise. Last season, the N.W.H.L.’s highest announced salary was $15,000.
Tumminia first got involved with the N.W.H.L. this year as the chairwoman of the Toronto team, a position she will leave because of her new post. Previously, Tumminia helped run several minor league baseball teams with a focus on sponsorship and marketing.
“This is a time of opportunity and transformation for the N.W.H.L., and the changes we are making across the league will fortify a foundation for continued success well into the future,” Tumminia said in a statement.
Tumminia’s ascent arrives at a time when women’s hockey is at a standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic. A majority of N.C.A.A. Division I women’s college hockey conferences have indefinitely delayed their 2020-21 seasons, while some Division III conferences have canceled theirs. Several international tournaments have been canceled, and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, a barnstorming group that includes players like Knight and other top Olympians, is operating with a limited schedule.
Members of the P.W.H.P.A. have been resolute in creating their own path toward a pro league that can provide players livable salaries, which the N.W.H.L. does not yet provide.