The following is a transcript of NWHL Founder & Commissioner Dani Rylan’s speech at the announcement on Tuesday of the league’s expansion to Minnesota.
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you to the media for your coverage and thanks also to our guests for joining us in Saint Paul. This is a landmark moment for the NWHL and for women’s professional hockey in Minnesota and across North America.
My colleagues all around the league, our players, executives, supporters…forgive us if we can’t stop smiling. That’s how much this moment – and being in Minnesota – means to us.
Make no mistake: when our league was formed in 2015, if it was at all possible, we would have loved to start with a team in Minnesota.
But developing a league takes time, resources, support and patience. We always believed this day would come.
Just three months ago, in partnership with our friends at the Minnesota Wild, we had a very successful NWHL All-Star Weekend. Usually when we have a neutral-site event, it’s to “test” the market. But let’s be serious – there was nothing to test! This is the State of Hockey!
I’ll give you a personal example. Couple years ago, on a February day, I was here in Saint Paul with friends down at Tom Reid’s. Every single TV in the place had girls’ high school hockey on.
Only in Minnesota! You’d better believe that was an inspiration to me.
This past winter, as we were talking with the Whitecaps, visiting the area, and planning our All-Star Weekend, one number caught our eyes: 28.
That was the number of women’s hockey players graduating from the five Division I college programs in your state this year. 28! As if the Whitecaps aren’t deep enough in talent as it is, 28…that’s more than an entire roster of skilled players available year after year.
Whether it’s the recent grads, the Olympians like Lee Stecklein, Dani Cameranesi and Hannah Brandt, or an incredible role model like Winny Brodt Brown who continues to make her mark on the game, these players are primed for the pros and ready to play with and against the best.
These women are the best at what they do, and they have earned the right to be professional hockey players.
And that’s why we’re here today. The Minnesota Whitecaps have built a legacy of creating opportunities for Minnesota, and we look forward to building on that tradition.
I have no doubt that this sports market – so passionate about the Lynx, Wild, Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and the college and high school teams – has room in its heart for the Whitecaps of the NWHL.
The Vegas Golden Knights may have stunned the hockey world in their first season, but I believe most women’s hockey experts will tell you Minnesota’s NWHL team is not only going to be a success out of the gate, but also a perennial Isobel Cup champion.
A few brief thank yous…
To Governor Dayton, for your belief in our league and in our mission, and for joining us today.
To the Minnesota Wild, for collaborating with us on All-Star Weekend and your counsel and friendship over the last few years. We look forward to working with you some more.
Thank you to Jack Brodt and Winny, and Kirsten Burton and Laura Halldorson, for your commitment and fortitude to women’s hockey and creating this partnership.
To Whitecaps players past, present and future: we pledge that your faith in the NWHL will be rewarded. Together, we will grow this great game.
And thank you to the hockey fans of Minnesota, because the success of any team relies on the support of its community.
And now, without further ado, it’s time to make this official…
Ladies and gentlemen … it gives us great pleasure to announce that Minnesota has joined the National Women’s Hockey League! Welcome the Minnesota Whitecaps!