The professional women’s hockey league-to-come has hired Burton Lee as game operations and fan experience director. Lee comes to the league from the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League – a major-junior men’s hockey team located two hours northeast of Toronto. An article on the Petes’ website announcing Lee’s departure quoted him discussing his excitement to join the professional women’s league.
“I am looking forward to contributing to one of the most exciting projects in the sport industry,” he said.
“The Mark Walter Group and Billie Jean King Enterprises have initiated something truly special for the hockey world. I am excited to work alongside a team led by Jayna Hefford and to use the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in Peterborough to help fans across North America and around the world experience elite hockey in a new way.”
Lee was hired by the Petes in 2013 as the game operations and communications director. After two years in that role, he became the executive director of business operations. During his time there, the Peterborough Petes were a partner of the PWHPA and hosted showcase games in each of the last two seasons.
Next week, Lee will leave the Petes for the still-undefined league assumed as the successor to the PWHPA.
The limited information from his quotes seem to indicate he brings a business-first approach to the project. It also appears that Hefford will play a central role in the league’s leadership.
The article noted that Lee’s family will continue to live in the Peterborough community. To date, there is little information on the location details of the league’s teams or executive operations.
It is unknown how the league will be run, how players will be involved in decisions, how it will generate revenue, what it will pay its employees and players, and when and where teams will play. I am also curious what Lee's vision for 'experiencing hockey in a new way' is.
The announcement is the first external hire the league has made public. It gives details which start to outline what this league will look like, but largely leaves more questions than answers.