Women’s hockey is just getting started fighting for equality. Thursday afternoon more than 200 women’s hockey players announced they will not be playing in professional leagues next season. Top stars including Team USA’s Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, and Kendall Coyne Schofield and Team Canada’s Marie Philip-Poulin have joined together to announce the boycott. A part of their statement read:
“It is time to create a sustainable professional league for Women’s Hockey. We will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has stated that the league isn’t interested in an ownership role in a women’s league while leagues were already operating. He’s also been critical of the business models of both the CWHL and NWHL.
“What we’ve repeatedly said is if there turns out to be a void — and we don’t wish that on anybody — then we’ll look at the possibilities and we’ll study what might be appropriate,” Bettman stated earlier this year in an interview with the Associated Press. With the players taking a stand against playing professionally we may have the void that the NHL needs to move into a position where they will back a women’s league.
“We may have represented different teams, leagues and countries — but this is one family. And the time is now for this family to unite,” the statement read. “This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — our moment to come together and say we deserve move.”
Women’s players have come together just about a month after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) ceased operations due to financial reasons after 12 years. After the CWHL announced it would be folding, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) released a statement saying they would expand two teams to Toronto and Montreal.
From the NWHL perspective the Players Association director, Anya Battaglino, stepped up with a wild take from someone who is supposed to represent the players. Battaglino said that:
“This announcement halts our ability to finally have the best players on one stage, and unfortunately sets the Women’s Hockey game backward.”
This couldn’t be farther from the truth in my opinion. The player’s statement cites that they are paid as little as $2000 a year and have to pay for their own health insurance. By boycotting playing this season hopefully the NHL will step up and back a single, sustainable, viable, women’s league. The results of these professional women taking a stand will only move the game forward.
This is a step in the right direction for women’s hockey and future generations of girls and women who will all play the game. The strong women standing up to the inequality know what they, as individuals, and the women’s sport as a whole, deserve and they will not settle for anything less.
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