Women’s hockey players are uniting off the ice with the hopes to create change on the ice.
In a bold move, more than 200 women are banding together, saying they are willing to boycott professional hockey next season.
List includes a number of high-profile players, including Team Canada captain Marie-Philip Poulin as well as Team USA players Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne-Schofield.
The players’ actions come after the Canadians Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) announced in March that it would be discontinuing its operations, leaving the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) as the only remaining professional option.
“We will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves,” the players announced in a statement released Thursday morning.
“We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game,” the statement adds. “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.”
This would essentially put the NWHL out of business for the upcoming season or severely damage the league’s credibility.
The dialogue between the players began prior to the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Finland.
Canadian and American players put their bitter on-ice rivalry aside in hopes of achieving a common goal, which appears to be that by creating a void in the women’s pro game to allow for a new model to develop.
Those supporting the players’ stance are using the hashtag #ForTheGame on social media.
— Laura Stacey (@LauraStacey7) May 2, 2019
— Marie-Philip Poulin (@pou29) May 2, 2019
— Kendall Coyne Schofield (@KendallCoyne) May 2, 2019
These women inspire me everyday! They are strong, educated, passionate, and incredible ambassadors for the sport of hockey. They have done their homework and are standing united. #ForTheGame https://t.co/9h2H5pCmgS
— Cassie Campbell-Pascall (@CassieCampbell) May 2, 2019
Female athletes deserve to live the life they envisioned as kids: playing the sport they love, and making a living doing it. I stand with all female athletes in their pursuit of equal pay and a sustainable future. #ForTheGame #OneVoice https://t.co/hLY9HgcIJa
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) May 2, 2019
Many are now turning to the NHL to see if they plan to step up, similar to what the National Basketball Association has done with the WNBA.
The NHL has supported both the NWHL and the CWHL to the tune of $50,000 per year, to which they have no say in business models for either league or how the money is spent. They also incorporated four women’s players during the 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly’s response to AP i’m more than 200 women’s hockey players pledging not to compete in NA next season: pic.twitter.com/spXchvWeOh
— John Wawrow (@john_wawrow) May 2, 2019
But for now, the immediate future of women’s professional hockey remains unclear.
Here is the full statement from the women’s players group:
We are fortunate to the ambassadors of this game that we revere so deeply and yet, more than ever, we 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 America 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. #ForTheGame