Hockey Star Emma Maltais on Playing in PWHL: 'It's Been Crazy' (Exclusive)

We spoke to Emma Maltais about the newly formed Professional Women's Hockey League.

The Professional Women's Hockey League (PWHL) launched in January to a monster debut, reaching 2.9 million viewers on CBC, Sportsnet and TSN. One of the stars of the league is Emma Maltais who plays for Toronto. spoke to Maltais about her experience playing in the PWHL. 

"It's been crazy," Maltais told PopCulture. "I think that the best part about it is that there's so much craze around the league right now. I was saying to my mom this morning, the best part is just turning on the TV and being able to watch your best friends play too, and tuning in like it's a normal NHL game. It's so professional. In the guide, it's not women's hockey anymore. It's PWHL, and you click on it, you can watch. Being able to be a part of a lot of those games and playing in front of such amazing crowds and fans has been so exceptional so far."

The PWHL consists of six teams — Toronto, Ottawa, New York, Montreal, Minnesota and Boston. The league has a 24-game schedule from January to May but will expand to 32 games next season. The rules of the PWHL are similar to the NHL and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), but the league added the "jailbreak" rule which allows a team to terminate a minor penalty by scoring a shorthanded goal. Maltais scored the first "jailbreak" shorthanded goal in PWHL history last month when Toronto faced New York. 

"I love the new rule. I think it's so interesting," Maltais said. "It creates a whole different dynamic when you're on the penalty kill. Sometimes you just want to dump in, get off the ice, and now that you can actually get your teammate out of the penalty box by scoring, it's such a reward and it's so hard to score a shorthanded goal, so it was really cool that I got to test out that rule. My teammate made a great play on the play and I just tapped it in, so it was exciting."

Maltais, 24, joined the PWHL after having a successful career in college. She played at Ohio State and scored 66 goals and 206 points in 169 games. She has also played for the Canadian national team and won a gold medal at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

"I feel like it just feels so surreal that I can even say that I did that and that happened," Maltais said about winning Olympic gold. "It all happened really, really fast with my process with making Team Canada in the senior team. Going to Beijing and competing in COVID is a crazy experience. And I think it was unique though, because I got to come home and share the whole idea of winning again with all my friends and family because they couldn't come. So I think experiencing the moments and then coming back and experiencing the sharing of it were two moments that were very, very unique and definitely the most exciting in my whole hockey career."

Now Maltais is hoping she can help the PWHL take off and be one of the top hockey leagues in the world. "I think it already has made a very big name for itself," Maltais said. "I think that the fact that it's gotten so much attention and set so many records is so exciting. Right now, I feel like we have most of the best players in the world playing in this league, and I wouldn't be surprised if the other players who are playing in other locations would be drawn to play in this league just because of the attention. I think we're doing such a good job actually giving it the attention it deserves finally."