Update: according to the Associated Press’ Stephen WhynoThe U.S. women’s national team didn’t budge, allowing USA Hockey’s Thursday deadline to pass, .
USA Hockey has set a 5 p.m. deadline on Thursday for the women’s national team to decide if it is going to participate in the 2017 World Championship tournament later this month as their wage dispute continues following months of negotiations.
On Wednesday the women’s team announced it would be boycotting the tournament due to stalled talks over fair wages and support from the organization.
The tournament is set to begin on March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan, with training camp is slated to start in less than a week.
USA Hockey has already announced its intention to put a competitive team on the ice, but Hilary Knight, one of the top players on the women’s team, is skeptical they will be able to do that due to how united the player pool is over the issue.
“If you ask older players, they’re going to say no because they’ve been through the wringer on these issues, and if you ask the younger players, unanimously they’re going to say no because they believe in what we’re doing,” said Knight in an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday.
Team captain Meghan Duggan said on Wednesday, “We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought.”
Players have said they are only paid $1,000 per month for six months during an Olympic year. Along with increased travel and insurance benefits, they are also looking for compensation, as well as the opportunity to play additional games in bigger venues during the remaining three-and-a-half years of the Olympic cycle. USA Hockey countered by saying players on the Olympic team in 2018 could make as much as $85,000, a claim that Duggan called “misleading and honest,” while the Associated Press cites a law firm representing the team as saying no such offer was ever made.
The United States team is one of the dominant teams in the women’s game, having medaled at every Olympics they have participated in (Gold in 1998, Silver in 2002, 2010 and 2014, Bronze in 2006) while also winning gold at the World Championships seven times, including three of the past four years.
On Thursday, NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan released the following statement in support of the players.
“After spending a day listening to the players and looking deeply into the issues, I want to be clear that the National Women’s Hockey League stands behind the women of the U.S. National Team in their quest for equality.
The goal for all of us in women’s hockey should be to work together to grow the game. There will often be challenges, but we must keep advancing the sport.
These national team players have elevated our professional league and worked tirelessly to develop the game and serve as role models to the next generation of players. Their commitment to equality is admirable, and we will continue to fight for them and alongside them.
To the amazing athletes and women of the USNT, we have deep respect for the way you have brought this issue to the forefront. The NWHL fully supports you. We are incredibly proud to have such strong and empowered pioneers in our league.
My hope is that a resolution comes soon so that our greatest players can represent the U.S. at the World Championships.”