USA Hockey, women's team avoid boycott; reach wage agreement

A week ago, the U.S. national women's team announced they planned to boycott this year's world championships - set to begin later this week in Plymouth, Michigan - until they were paid a "living wage" by USA Hockey, the sport's governing body in the United States.

"Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport", USA Hockey president Jim Smith said in a statement.

Leaders of the powerhouse American women's team reached an agreement with USA Hockey on Tuesday night, ending their boycott just days before the world championships.

The deal means players will be on the ice Friday in Plymouth, Michigan, to begin their title defense against archrival Canada.

The deal was a significant win for the players, who originally turned down a counter-proposal made by USA Hockey last Thursday despite the players thinking they had come to an agreement after 10 hours of talks on Monday. I'm proud of my teammates and can't thank everyone who supported us enough. "It's now time to turn the page".

The national team was planning to boycott the IIHF Women's World Championship over a pay dispute with the federation. The players argued that the $6,000 they earn around the Olympics was out of balance when compared to USA Hockey's $3.5 million annual spending on the men's national team.

The U.S. Women's National Hockey Team has medaled in every Olympics since 1998, when Women's Hockey was first added as an Olympic Sport. "At the end of the day, we as women's hockey, we made history". "It's going to be important to not just sign a deal and be done with it but to continue to grow the sport and to market our sport and market the players and it's just going to create numbers at the grassroots level that I think players want to see and USA Hockey wants to see".

They also sought disability insurance, business class flights and the ability to bring guests to some games. The U.S. has won six of the past eight world championships. If the dispute is not resolved, the team has threatened to boycott the event. NHL players and coaches, as well as the NHL Players' Association, and player unions from the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS and professional sports leagues around the world voiced their support for their stand for equality. This group will offer advice in helping USA Hockey advance girls and women's hockey.

"We've gone back and forth with USA Hockey the last 12-16 months", USA captain Meghan Duggan told Sportsnet earlier this month. Even if junior hockey is ultimately successful in continuing to pay its players - they refuse to call them employees for obvious reasons - poverty wages, there is now the realization that when it comes to junior hockey, the system is a lot more Walmart than it is Mom and Pop.

While the men's world championship doesn't begin until May and will be held in France and Germany, the teams are already arriving in Plymouth, Mich., for the women's tournament, making it all the more dramatic that, as of this writing, the home team will not be participating.

About 13% of USA Hockey's players are female, and USA Hockey officials it spends about 30% of their national team money on the women's program.

USA Hockey said from the beginning of the protest that it would field a team to compete in the games - with or without the current members.

But USA Hockey had argued that it is their responsibility to provide support for athletes as they prepare for competitions and that they are not in the job of employing players.

  • Julie Sanders