Ice hockey-US women's team settle pay dispute, avoid boycott

USA Hockey and players for the US women's national team agreed Tuesday to a tentative four-year deal to avert a boycott of the IIHF Women's World Championship, a person with knowledge of the deal told USA TODAY Sports Tuesday.

"The existing USA national team is a dominant player in women's ice hockey - they've medaled in all five Olympic Games that featured women's hockey and won the world championships seven times since 2000".

The players canceled training camp set for March 22-28 in Traverse City, Mich., and an exhibition game against Finland March 24 as part of the protest, sending the US scrambling to find players in lower ranks to defend the country's title.

According to USA Hockey senior director Dave Fischer during an interview last week, the organization remained optimistic something could be done to save the week-long tournament.

In a way, Tuesday's victory may be even bigger than the gold medal won in Nagano in 1998.

The new contract would pay players approximately $3,000 a month, with annual compensation of more than $70,000 when combined with contributions from the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Associated Press reported. The range for the fund in 2017 is $850,000 to $950,000.

The boycott was originally announced on March 15, when ESPNW broke the news and the original Team USA players sent out a mass social media message announcing the strike. The standoff forced USA Hockey's governing body to postpone training camp and cancel an exhibition against Finland on Friday. For example, the gold medal winners receive $37,500, and the silver medal winners receive $22,500 and the bronze medal winners receive $15,000.

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. This group will meet regularly to assist US hockey in marketing, promotions, and fundraising girls and women's hockey. It will meet regularly, USA Hockey said.

"It was critical to go through this process and to get this done, and I'm pretty sure that the women are very, very satisfied with where we ended up and it puts us in a great place to all move forward in a great way", Ogrean said by phone Tuesday night.

Six current and former Boston College Eagles - Kelli Stack '11, Emily Pfalzer '15, Alex Carpenter '16, Haley Skarupa '16, Kali Flanagan '18, and Megan Keller '18 - are on the Team USA roster for next week's tournament in Plymouth, Michigan. In the 1992 World Championships, the USA women dispatched Switzerland by a score of 17-0. "We're excited we were able to reach a compromise and now we will have the chance to defend our world championship later this week". This is our legacy.' Obviously, this isn't just our legacy alone.

Mind you, women's hockey is nowhere near a prominent sport as the male version.

USA Hockey also says there will be a focus on grassroots hockey areas. "We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey leadership listened".

Since news of the boycott broke, USA Hockey has reportedly been working to put together a team to play at the World Championships, which will be hosted in MI. US Democrats' liberal firebrand, Senator Elizabeth Warren of MA, was among those who signed a letter saying USA Hockey is required by law to "provide equitable support and encouragement for participation by women where separate programs for male and female athletes are conducted on a national basis".

"It's time now to turn the page", Duggan said.

The agreement allows USA Hockey to avoid what would've been an embarrassing situation at the Women's World Championship.

The two sides have reached an agreement but are keeping the terms private.

So its board went back to the negotiating table Monday.

"I'm glad we could come together and reach an arrangement that will have a positive and lasting impact", said Hilary Knight, a veteran forward on the national team.

More people from inside and outside the hockey world have been voicing their support for the women's team.

Fellow hockey players aren't the only ones lending support to the women's team. On Sunday it was reported that the US men's team would refuse to participate in the worlds if USA Hockey went through with fielding a replacement team.

  • Julie Sanders