Women's team reaches agreement with USA Hockey, will play in worlds

After more than a year of negotiations over wages and equitable support, players announced March 15 that they'd boycott the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship if significant progress wasn't made toward an agreement.

"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 joint statement released by the two sides.

"The existing US 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 U.S. women's national team has won the last three world championships and has won the tournament seven times.

USA Hockey has gone from women's hockey well to women's hockey well looking for replacements for the US women's team.

"I'm proud of my teammates and can't thank everyone who supported us enough", Duggan said.

Members of the women's team said all along that they hoped to reach a deal that would allow them to return to the ice in time for the world championships.

The women's team had vowed to boycott the tournament if USA Hockey wouldn't address the players' concerns over what they felt was inadequate compensation and support.

The #MLBPA continues to encourage ALL women hockey players to stand united in support of #USWNHT efforts to secure improved conditions.

Fellow hockey players aren't the only ones lending support to the women's team. There were young players from Compuware's girls hockey team filling the front rows and they later had the chance to meet and greet US players.

"USA Hockey has a long-standing commitment to the support, advancement and growth of girls and women's hockey and any claims to the contrary are unfounded", the organization said.

USA Hockey even paid for the men's disability insurance, but not for the women's team. The fact that USA Hockey had to be shamed into this agreement after reaching out to replacement players is indeed a source of embarrassment and alarm for the body that governs hockey in the United States.

Hilary Knight, veteran forward of the USA national team, said the signed deal would "have a positive and lasting impact" for women's hockey.

That American men standouts like Patrick Kane or Ryan Suter got to travel business class to global tournaments while women like Brianna Decker and Megan Bozek traveled in coach says a lot about the inequality in the organization before this agreement.

In a press release, USA Hockey said it was "disappointed" by the players' decision to boycott the championships.

USA Today reported Sunday that the board was scheduled to consider the same proposal that players and USA Hockey had tentatively agreed to after they met on March 20 in Philadelphia. The players had been negotiating with USA Hockey for over a year.

Done deal. U.S. women have a new contract and will play in World championships.

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.

And an agent representing dozens of National Hockey League players says the men's team could follow suit with a similar boycott of their championship in May.

  • Julie Sanders