March 23, 2017

USA Hockey is beginning to reach out to potential replacement players in case the women's national team boycotts the upcoming world championships over an ongoing wage dispute.

The organization said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Thursday night that it's still prioritizing having the original team on the ice. The players responded by saying they're confident younger players stand with them and would not choose to play in the tournament,

USA Hockey informed players' representatives that it will be gauging replacement players' availability for the tournament, which begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. The players said in a statement that they're aware of USA Hockey's attempt to find other players.

Executive director Dave Ogrean said USA Hockey's objective remains having the players picked for the team represent the U.S. and called negotiations this week ''productive conversations.'' The sides met for 10-plus hours in person Monday in an effort to resolve a dispute over wages.

The players said USA Hockey made a ''disappointing'' counter proposal that was different than they believed was acceptable after Monday's meeting. Players added that they remain resolved to skip the world championships unless there is an agreement, despite the U.S. being the defending champion.

Players are looking for a four-year contract that includes payment outside the six-month Olympic period.

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