On April 26, the PHF announced that Reagan Carey would take over as the league’s third commissioner, succeeding Ty Tumminia - who was the interim commissioner for Season 6 before taking over the role full time in Season 7, and Dani Rylan Kearney, the league’s founder and commissioner from its inception through Season 5.
“Going from someone that had to change in the arena bathroom because you were the only girl on the team to play on the boy’s teams and you really weren’t in the locker room, to go through that, and love the sport in so many ways, so many great moments. To start there,” Carey said, “and to be named the commissioner of a women’s professional hockey league in the PHF…it’s just, it’s just a special moment.”
The PHF today announced that Reagan Carey has been appointed the league’s next commissioner, bringing over twenty years of leadership in the sports industry to the role including unparalleled experience in women’s hockey.— PHF (@PHF) April 26, 2022
👑 | https://t.co/Ro9oAzF6LK pic.twitter.com/f7fkKQB7Cd
“And one I’m very honored to have. I’m going to work tirelessly on behalf of the PHF, and everybody involved, to make sure this is a great success and a great home - not just for the players - but our fans and our partners and everyone that will be on board that doesn’t even know it yet,” said Carey in her introductory statement to media on a virtual conference call on Tuesday night. “I’m eager to get started.”
Carey was the Director of Women’s Ice Hockey for USA Hockey and General Manager of the US Women’s National Team at the 2018 Winter Olympics - where they captured a gold medal. She will officially take over the role as PHF commissioner on May 10.
The search committee that appointed Carey was chaired by Tobin Kelly (who is on the PHF Board of Governors and the owner of the Connecticut Whale), and also included Johanna Boynton, Andy Scurto, Lisa Haley, Digit Murphy, and Susie Piotrkowski.
“What stands out about Reagan Carey is not only her incredible depth of experience in the world of women’s hockey but the collaborative approach she brings to the position,” said Kelly in the press release announcing the appointment. “In all of our many conversations, Reagan’s commitment to communication and her values that advocate what is right and put players first, make her the perfect leader for the next phase of growth in the PHF. We are all excited about welcoming Reagan as she takes the lead in moving the PHF forward.”
During the introductory press conference, Boynton said this of Carey. “She’s won many awards and medals, been on countless committees, but the thing that became very clear during our many interviews was how consistently players were at the focus of her work. She’s absolutely committed and collaborative in that work; authentic, compassionate. It was a no-brainer by the end of all of those conversations.”
As we learned, those conversations really ramped up over the past few days. “I don’t remember when one (day) started and getting to today, it’s been a whirlwind,” Carey revealed. She also said that she already knew the members of the BoG, but was able to have more in-depth talks with them during the hiring process.
“I was reached out to, and happy that that happened,” she replied when asked if the PHF approached her for the role. “I wasn’t actively looking for this role. But once I got up to speed on what the plans were and what the support was, it was a no-brainer for me.”
One of the first orders of business for Carey is to announce not one, but two new expansion teams. We already know that one is destined to be in Montreal, but haven’t heard anything about the second location. “It’s a priority to get that answer to everybody really quickly,” she said. Only being really two days into the job, she mentioned that nothing had been determined, but that it was at the top of the list of things to get done.
“We intend to be the best option for players to come and play and for people to experience the best of women’s professional hockey,” added the new commissioner.
“Having been a part of both the U18 program and the USWNT during Reagan’s tenure with USA Hockey, I’ve seen her passion and dedication in action and always appreciated how much she cared about the athletes,” said Toronto Six captain Shiann Darkangelo of Carey, who guided USA Hockey from 2010-18. “I am very excited for the knowledge and expertise she will bring to the PHF in this important leadership role to help continue the growth of our game.”
For Carey, what she noticed - before she was approached with this role was this: “The NWHL was imperfect in many ways, as most leagues starting out and most start-up businesses are. There are bumps in the road, there are imperfections and inconsistencies. But the spirit of what was trying to be accomplished - for decades people wanted women’s professional hockey players to get paid and that just wasn’t happening,” she said.
“The NWHL was the first to go after that, and get it done. Of course, there was a lot of room for improvement for what they were making (monetarily), but the spirit of trying to do something was different and has always been there. There were a lot of inconsistencies early on for those players - but it grew into the next phase. New ownership, new direction, and how much can be done in a short amount of time is incredible. It’s really energizing to think of what is ahead.
We want to see players get paid more. The PHF answered that call.
We want to see women’s hockey, and be able to watch a full season on TV. The PHF answered that call.
We want to be able to have medical coverage, we want maternity leave. The PHF has answered that call, in a short amount of time.
It’s important to note, there is a lot of work to still be done and nobody is resting on what has been accomplished.”