With the CWHL shuttered on May 1, the NWHL is the only professional women’s hockey league left in North America.
Dissatisfied with the current state of professional hockey, over 200 professional women’s hockey players are boycotting the upcoming season until there is one unified, economically viable league that provides adequate resources to its players.
The joint statement was made on Twitter and included stars Hilary Knight, Marie-Philip Poulin, Natalie Spooner, Kendall Coyne Schofield, and Maryland’s own Haley Skarupa.
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“Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level,” the release states. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — our moment to come together and say we deserve more. It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world.”
The move also places more strain on the NHL and other hockey governing bodies such as USA Hockey and Hockey Canada to intervene. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said he didn’t want to be “a bully” and would not create a league while there was still one league in existence. Bettman and the NHL have held the trademark for WNHL since 2016.
To that end, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that the NHL will privately evaluate whether or not they’ll back a women’s league. “We will further explore the situation privately before taking any affirmative position on next steps,” he told the AP.
CWHLPA co-chair Liz Knox said the NHL and the governing bodies need to step in. “These are your players who are winning you Olympic medals saying, ‘We’re just not getting enough right now,’” she told the AP. “I would certainly hope it’s a moment for them to self-reflect and say, ‘OK, where are our interests and where do we see it fitting in the future?’”
The NWHL released a response to the movement, countering that they’d welcome “open communication addressing their concerns and exchanging ideas, and to collaborate with the players on one league.”
here is the NWHL statement released just now: pic.twitter.com/XRETihWu3M
— the victory press (@thevictorypress) May 2, 2019
The Ice Garden has provided a nifty timeline tracking the events leading up to the current #ForTheGame movement started by the players.
This isn’t the first time women’s hockey players have boycotted for better conditions. In 2017 before the IIHF World Championships, Team USA boycotted the tournament, which was held on their home soil, to protest the lack of support from USA Hockey. The NHL stepped in to help end the dispute, but only after USA Hockey tried to contact players as young as high schoolers for the tournament.
The USA Women’s National team won their past standoff. It’ll be interesting to see if the 200 plus players from across the globe get the league they need to succeed.
The full statement from the players has been provided below:
We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this game that we revere so deeply and yet, more than ever, understand the responsibility that comes with that ambassadorship: To leave this game in better shape than when we entered it. That is why we come together, over 200 players strong, to say it is time to create a sustainable professional league for Women’s Hockey.
While we have all accomplished so much, there is no greater accomplishment than what we have the potential to do right here and right now — not just for this generation of players, but for generations to come. With that purpose, we are coming together, not as individual players, but as one collective voice to help navigate the future and protect the players needs. We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game. Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level.
Because of that, together as players, we will not play in ANY professional leagues in North American this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves.
We may have represented different teams, leagues, and countries — but this sport is one family. And the time is now for this family to unite. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — our moment to come together and say we deserve more. It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world.
Headline photo: @Bdecker14
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