The Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) was created in May 2007 following the dissolution of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). The NWHL's board of governors had decided to take a year off to figure out how to make women's hockey more profitable. However, this left the league's elite female hockey players with no place to play. This dismal prospect mobilized the league's players. Over the summer of 2007, players from various teams held meetings to discuss the formation of several strong teams. However, the question of how to fund each team without any owners or any of the previous staff still loomed large.
The answer came in the guise of a street hockey game. Mandy Cronin, a goaltender with the Brampton Thunder, had been invited to play in a charity ball hockey tournament with a group from Birch Hill Equity Partners, an investment firm. Her goaltending led the Birch Hill gentlemen to victory and when she told them about the plight of women's hockey in North America, they were inspired to help.
Michael J. Salamon of Birch Hill Equity Partners not only provided financial backing but also laid the groundwork for a sustainable business model. The CWHL met with Mr. Salamon on a weekly basis and eventually formed a Board of Directors. With the assistance of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association, they drafted a constitution that would cement the league as a legitimate business entity.
The CWHL is distinct from the leagues that came before it because of its centralized vision. Eschewing the old ownership model, the league pays for basic travel, ice rental, uniforms and equipment costs of all five of its teams. It will expand to include an Alberta-based team in the 2011-12 season.