USA Hockey strikes deal with women’s national team, will play in world championships
The U.S. national women’s hockey team has signed a new four-year deal with USA Hockey to end its boycott of the upcoming world championships, USA Hockey announced.
“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. “We’ll now move forward together knowing we’ll look back on this day as one of the most positive in the history of USA Hockey.”
The women’s team announced last week it would not participate in this year’s world championships, set to begin later this week, as they asked to be paid a “living wage.” Under the new deal, they will participate. The first game is schedule for Friday against Canada.
The financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
“Our sport is the big winner today,” U.S. Women’s National Team Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”
USA Hockey approached players from various youth national teams, reportedly all the way down to the U16 level, seeking to find replacement players for the tournament. No youth players accepted the offer.
The dispute also drew concern from a group of U.S. senators.
“We stand with the courageous U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team," U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) said in a statement. "These exceptional athletes have won medals in every Olympics since 1998, and they should be respected for their contributions to the sport. That’s why we are glad USA Hockey and the women’s national hockey team reached an agreement today. In our states, we know hockey. Our girls should be able to succeed at this sport, or any sport, just as much as our boys – that’s the world we want all our kids to grow up in.”
Several players’ unions expressed solidarity with the women, including the NHL and NFL. NHL agent Allan Walsh said Sunday that U.S. men’s players were considering a boycott of their world championships later this spring.