CAA to represent women's hockey players, signing eight

CAA is now representing women's hockey players, hoping to minimize the gender gap and help grow the sport, the agency told ESPN on Tuesday.

The Creative Artists Agency has signed eight women's hockey players, including two-time Canadian Olympic medalist Blayre Turnbull and Boston College captain Hannah Bilka, to its initial roster, promising to provide the same level of services it does for NHL clients.

"Women's hockey has grown immensely in the last 20 years but still has a long way to go," said Jen Kardosh, who is the head of operations, marketing and client management for CAA Hockey. "We are excited to use the experience we have from the men's game to help these women grow their personal brands while also helping with the overall growth of the game."

The Premier Hockey Federation is the only women's professional league in North America and is in its eighth year of existence. Although the league has made great strides -- including a plan to double its salary cap to $1.5 million in the 2023-24 season -- many of the sport's top players, including most Canadian and American Olympians, are holding out for a different league where they say they can make a sustainable, living wage.

At large, women's hockey has shown promising signs of growth. The gold-medal game at the 2022 Olympics between Canada and the United States averaged 3.54 million viewers on NBC. In November, the U.S. topped Canada in a game at Seattle's Climate Pledge Arena featuring 14,551 fans -- the highest attendance ever for a women's hockey game in the U.S.

"We want to help these women grow their careers on and off the ice and want to help them reach their goals," said CAA Hockey's Dominique DiDia, a former collegiate hockey player. "The women's game is fast, entertaining, filled with incredibly skilled players -- and has proven recently how much people do want to watch and be fans of the women."

CAA represents some of the top players in the NHL, including Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon and David Pastrnak. The agency's women's representation plan is an all-hands-on-deck approach, with leading NHL agents Pat Brisson and JP Barry planning to be involved.

Kardosh said the goal is to help women's players navigate their careers, while "showcasing these incredible female athletes through strategic partnerships promoting their well-rounded personalities and interests on and off the ice."

CAA's women's clients also include American goalie Aerin Frankel, the 2021 Patty Kazmaier winner, and Canadian Claire Thompson, who set the record at the 2022 Olympics for most points by a defenseman. Thompson is enrolled at NYU's medical school and plans to train for the 2026 Olympics.