The League consisted of two divisions: the older Eastern Division (later the Eastern and Central Divisions) consists of seven teams based in Ontario and Quebec, while the Western Division was formed in 2002 with the addition of the Calgary Oval X-Treme, Edmonton Chimos, and the Vancouver Griffins. The Griffins only lasted one season, and the high travel costs for the two Alberta teams caused them to break away in 2004 and form the Western Women's Hockey League.
The two leagues agreed to merge in 2006, however this merger broke down midseason, and the WWHL remained independent. After the season, the NWHL suspended operations, with Brampton and Ottawa forming the CWHL.
Due to the expected merger, the NWHL was split into the Eastern and Central divisions, with the WWHL teams expected to make up the Western Division. The Eastern and Central Division teams played a 35-game unbalanced but interlocking schedule, with the four teams from the Central Division and the top two teams from the Eastern Division qualifying for the postseason. In the NWHL playoffs, teams played a best-of-three series to determine the Eastern and Central Division champions, who face off for the Clarkson Cup. (Prior to the introduction of the Clarkson Cup, the NWHL Championship Cup was awarded instead).
Teams from the Eastern and Central Divisions did not play against the Western Division teams at all in the regular season or postseason, although there were plans to have all three divisions compete in the playoffs before the league folded.
- Brampton Thunder (1998–2007, to CWHL as Brampton Canadette Thunder)
- Calgary Oval X-treme (2002–04, to WWHL)
- Edmonton Chimos (2002–04, to WWHL)
- Etobicoke Dolphins (2006-07 as IWHL affiliate, Telus Lightning 2001-06, Clearnet Lightning 1999-2001)
- Laval Le Mistral (1998–2001)
- Mississauga Aeros (2006-07 as IWHL affiliate, Toronto Aeros 2003-06, Beatrice Aeros 1998-2003)
- Montreal Axion (2003–07, Montreal Wingstar 1999-2003, Bonaventure Wingstar 1998-1999)
- Montréal Jofa-Titan (1998–1999)
- Oakville Ice (2003–07, Mississauga Ice Bears 2000-2003, Mississauga Chiefs 1998-2000
- Ottawa Raiders (1999–2007, National Capital Raiders 1998-99, to CWHL as Ottawa Capital Canucks)
- Quebec Avalanche (2002–07, Metropol Le Cheyenne 2001-02, Sainte-Julie Panthères 1999-2001)
- Toronto Sting (2000–2001, Scarborough Sting 1999-2000)
- Vancouver Griffins (2002–2003)
- Jayna Hefford, Brampton Thunder (She was the league’s all-time leading goal scorer with 252 goals)
Since 2006, the championship of the Eastern and Central Division is awarded the Clarkson Cup, while the (officially unnamed) NWHL Champions Cup was awarded prior to 2006. Though the league and the WWHL were considered merged for the 2006-07 season, the WWHL teams did not compete for the Clarkson Cup, instead playing for the WWHL Champions Cup. The Cup is now won in a playoff between WWHL and CWHL teams.
A list of NWHL winners (winner is in bold):
- 2007 - Brampton Thunder vs Montreal Axion
- 2006 - Montreal Axion vs Brampton Thunder, in Brampton
- 2005 - Toronto Aeros vs Montreal Axion, hosted in Brampton
- 2004 - Calgary Oval X-Treme vs Brampton Thunder, hosted in Brampton
- 2003 - Calgary Oval X-Treme vs Beatrice Aeros, hosted in Brampton
- 2002 - Beatrice Aeros vs Brampton Thunder
- 2001 - Beatrice Aeros vs Sainte-Julie Panthères
- 2000 - Beatrice Aeros vs Sainte-Julie Panthères, hosted in Brampton
- ↑ Women's hockey leagues bury hatchet, merge - from Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity
- ↑ http://eastonhockey.com/jayna-hefford.html
- ↑ http://www.bramptonthunder.com/news.php?k=92
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