When goalie Katie Burt signed with the Boston Pride before the season, there had been some speculation she wasn’t the only Professional Women’s Hockey Association defector to go there.

The Pride, who won the Isobel Cup a season ago in the then-NWHL, are the power of the newly named Premier Hockey Federation. They’re naturally going to draw some of the best talent.

That’s why it wasn’t a huge surprise that Kali Flanagan was the next to make the leap Thursday. Recently cut from the U.S. national team’s residency, she didn’t return to the PWHPA, where her father, Bill Flanagan, previously led the New Hampshire team.

That team dissipated before this season when Flanagan left amid frustration between the USA and Canada training regions, citing a lack of support for some of the American locations. Now there’s a Boston training region, sponsored by Bauer, as one of just two training region in the states.

The majority of the elite PWHPA talent has gone off to the USA and Canada residencies. The Dream Gap Tour is next slated to play Dec. 18-19 in Toronto, and the PHWPA All-Star team is slated to compete in Calgary, Alberta, on Dec. 9 and 11.

More players have returned to the PHF this time around, as the PWHPA has stagnated in some areas and the PHF rebranded, even after a disastrous Lake Placid bubble and an offseason in which seemingly a week didn’t go by without some scandal. Even before that, the then-NWHL was never exactly free from labor issues, which was one reason the PWHPA was created.


With the upcoming Olympics, there’s going to be a breaking point of how much the PWHPA can do. The PHF, under the leadership of Ty Tumminia, has shown no signs of backing down regardless of its national-team talent.

But now there is some. Burt arguably was the future between the pipes for the U.S. before she struggled on the national stage and in the PWHPA. Now Flanagan is a member of a Pride blue line that is so stacked it’s tough to figure out what her role will be.

There’s a long history of Canada and the U.S. not recruiting or inviting PHF players. McKenna Brand, Sammy Davis and Melissa Samoskevich — who played for Connecticut last season but isn’t this year — were on the U.S. radar before re-upping their commitment to the then-NWHL.

Mikyla Grant-Mentis, last season’s NWHL MVP and one of the most dominant players in the league, hasn’t received even a cursory glance from Canada. Neither has Toronto defender Lindsay Eastwood.

Whether that’s coincidence or not, Flanagan has been a staple in international events for the U.S. So whether she continues to get national-team consideration after the Olympics, if there’s still a PWHPA and she’s not in it, will be worth monitoring.

“I chose the Pride for two reasons,” Flanagan said in a statement. “The quality of the people that are a part of this organization — from the front office, to the coaches and my teammates — and Boston is my home; I grew up here, I played in college here at (Boston College) and now I have the opportunity to play professional hockey here, and I’m looking forward to bringing the same wholehearted effort, [camaraderie] and championship mindset that I’ve always played with to the Pride.”


It’s not surprising she made the leap after her father did the same, to be the PHF director of scouting in the U.S. It’s another layer into the never-ending story of where the future of pro women’s hockey is going, though.

All-Star Game in Canada

The PHF announced Thursday that it would hold an All-Star Game after all, and in its newest city. The league will play the event for the first time in two years in Toronto.

The event will be Jan. 29 at York Canlan Sports, the home of the Toronto Six, who began play at home for the first time after playing in the Lake Placid bubble last season.

The last PHF All-Star Game, when the league was the NWHL, took place in Boston a few weeks before the 2020 Isobel Cup was called off because of COVID-19.

The new format for the event will include three teams in a round-robin series, with single-period games composed of 10 minutes of 5-on-5 action followed by five minutes of 3-on-3 play and a shootout.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the next event for the PHWPA’s Dream Gap Tour is Dec. 18-19 in Toronto, and the PHWPA All-Star team is scheduled to compete Dec. 9 and 11 in Calgary, Alberta.