A co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired what was described as “certain assets” of the Premier Hockey Federation on Thursday, a move that could clear the way for a single North American women’s hockey league, a person with direct knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press.

Two other people familiar with the details confirmed the purchase by Mark Walter’s firm, with all three speaking on the condition of anonymity because details of the acquisition haven’t been made public. Players for both the PHF and the rival Professional Hockey Players’ Association were being informed of the purchase in a private meeting.

The Mark Walter Group has spent the past 14 months working with the PWHPA in a bid to launch its own league.

Thursday’s deal has the potential of eliminating the PWHPA’s competition: the seven-team PHF, which was scheduled to enter is ninth season.

The PWHPA certified as a union this spring and is in the late phases of completing negotiations to establish a collective bargaining agreement. Once ratified, the CBA would become the final step toward establishing a league that would launch before the end of the year.

The ratification vote is expected to take place within the next week.

The deal could be a breakthrough for North American pro women’s hockey, which has been divided since the PWHPA was formed in 2019 following the financial demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

The PWHPA is made up of a majority of U.S. and Canadian national team players, and its membership balked at joining what was then called National Women’s Hockey League, which was since rebranded as the PHF. The PWHPA instead pursued its own vision of having a seat at the table and having a direct say in launching its own league with a sustainable economic model and fair wages for players.

In May 2022, the PWHPA reached an agreement with the Walter’s firm and Billie Jean Enterprises to pursue the formation of the new league.

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