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USA Hockey, Women's National Team Reps Meeting In Philly To Discuss Wage Dispute

USA Hockey, Women's National Team Reps Meeting In Philly To Discuss Wage Dispute

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Hilary Knight called USA Hockey's offerings "dishonest and misrepresented"
USA Hockey execs and women's national team reps will meet today to discuss the wage dispute that "could lead to the players boycotting" the IIHF World Championships, which begin March 31 in Michigan, according to Stephen Whyno of the AP. The players last week announced that they would skip the event "unless significant progress is made in negotiations on what they hope is a four-year contract." Today's meeting in Philadelphia comes "two days before the scheduled start of training camp" (AP, 3/19).

NUMBER JUMBLE: USA TODAY's A.J. Perez noted USA Hockey on Friday "went public with the negotiations" it is having with the women's national team, releasing financial terms that were "immediately disputed as the players continue to say they will boycott" the IIHF World Championship. USA Hockey said the players "asked for as much as $237,000 each in an Olympic year and $149,000 in a non-Olympic year, figures that include performance bonuses and other stipends" paid by the USOC. The players in a statement said USA Hockey had provided "patently false information." U.S. F Hilary Knight in a text message wrote, "We're disappointed with USAH's response. Again offering numbers that are dishonest and misrepresented -- actually somewhat confusing. We stand strong in our resolve to fight for equitable support." A source said that the players "sought about $72,000 per year" in recent negotiations. USA Hockey said that it has "offered the women as much as $90,000 each based on the team's performance in the Olympics and world championship," figures which include bonuses and stipends from the USOC (USATODAY.com, 3/17).

IN SEARCH OF BALANCE: ESPNW.com's Johnette Howard noted players said that USA Hockey has "contacted an attorney representing the women's team to restart contract negotiations." The players' lead attorney John Langel said that he was "contacted by USA Hockey on Friday evening," but had "not received a counterproposal from the organization, as requested." Langel: "USA Hockey has our proposal, and we're available if they want to get back to us. The ball is in their court" (ESPNW.com, 3/18). In N.Y., Larry Brooks wrote the "struggle to rectify these anachronistic conditions has been ongoing for a generation." People "don't find this gender schism in Canada, where the men and women are treated as equal partners" (N.Y. POST, 3/19). Lawyers for the women's team said that while USA Hockey spends $3.5M "supporting its under-20 men's team," there is "no parallel development program for young women, and USA Hockey spends only" about $1M each year supporting the women's team. Langel: "It confuses me how a national governing body can sit there and say, yeah, I can spend $3.5 million on 17- and 18-year-old boys, and I don't have a corresponding obligation on the women's side." Knight said, "It's a huge sacrifice that we're putting the world championship on the line, and I think that speaks volumes. Equitable is the key word. For us, it's not an unreasonable ask" (WASHINGTON POST, 3/18).

STAYING POSITIVE: SI.com's Kate Cimini notes USA Hockey's response to a potential boycott of the world championship would be to "look to ice a team of replacement players from within the women's development pipeline." Although the women's team players were "not surprised by USA Hockey's reply, it was still disappointing." It seemed only to "further unite the players, though, including those further down the system," whom team captain Meghan Duggan "reached out to." Duggan: "If I were USA (Hockey), I would be proud of us, I really would. I know they're on the other side of this but as a group, seeing how strong we are, how passionate we are about this cause" (SI.com, 3/18).

READY FOR A REBOUND? In N.Y., Seth Berkman notes in the National Women's Hockey League's first year, Commissioner Dani Rylan was "hailed as a pioneer," but this year, "much of that glimmer has faded." The league "cut salaries in November, while fighting a lawsuit and facing criticism over business practices." Her most vocal detractors "paint her as unfit to run a professional league." As the NWHL's second season ended yesterday, Rylan was "confident she could restore the league's image and parlay the lessons learned from a year of tumult" to "create a better home for professional women's hockey for next season and beyond." Rylan: "I know that I can sleep well every night knowing that I'm doing everything I can to make this league successful and provide a place for these players to play while growing the game. I definitely had to be the punching bag for the business. Would I have loved to have been the good guy forever? Of course. But I think at the end of the day, we're continuing to raise the bar for professional women's hockey" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).

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