US Women's Hockey Team Will Sit Out World Championships in Pay Protest

Paola Ditto
Marzo 21, 2017

The players say US hockey treats them as an afterthought, failing to invest in women's teams as they do in the men's side.

Much of USA Hockey's financial commitments seem to be focused on the construction of its new complex in Plymouth, Mich., which is focused on developing its men's teams.

Standout forward Hilary Knight, who is expected to attend the meeting after playing in the National Women's Hockey League final Sunday, said Friday that it was her hope that USA Hockey would "reach out to our lawyers and present something that's worth sitting down to the table for".

The discussions on their main talking point, the fair wages as the men's team, still hasn't moved forward.

This is the second pay dispute between a women's national team and an Olympic governing body in the past year; the women's national soccer team filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last year alleging wage discrimination by U.S. Soccer.

USA Hockey says it is contacting representatives of the women's team that threatened to boycott the upcoming world championships over a wage dispute it claims could cost up to $8 million United States a year.

USA Hockey said Wednesday it expects to field a competitive team at the World Championships, regardless of the status of any boycott - the tournament is being hosted at the aforementioned facility in MI.

In its own statement, USA Hockey signaled a willingness to cobble together such a team, while also staying "committed to continuing dialogue" with the players. And suggesting that these athletes aren't entitled to a decent return on their time and effort puts you in the same group as those who used to snicker and sneer prior to the turn of the century when some of us argued that hockey fans would indeed be invested emotionally and financially in the women's game.

But it was entirely lost on Dave Ogrean, USA Hockey's executive director, who, instead of sensing the public-relations nightmare that looms for him and his organization, stunningly doubled down in his fight against the women's team.

Training camp starts March 21st, while the world hockey games begin March 31. Some opt to not even play in the NWHL because they can potentially earn more elsewhere. That's because in order to be able to play for the US team, Lamoureux-Morando works three part-time jobs, the primary one being a strength and conditioning coach in Grand Forks, N.D. There are some days when she works from 5 a.m.to 7 p.m., and still has to find a way to squeeze in three more hours of training and skating to keep in shape for the USA team. That's why, the team says, they deserve a consistent paycheck.

Players say they're paid $1,000 a month for the six-month pre-Olympic period and nothing for the other 3 1/2 years.

USA Hockey has declined to share a specific dollar figure for its spending on girl's youth hockey.

But USA Hockey reportedly spends around $3.5 million a year to finance more than 60 games for boys in its national-team development program. It says it is a "world leader" in developing the sport among females.

The 2017 IIHF Women's World Championships are two weeks away.

John B. Langel, the players' lead attorney, said he was contacted by USA Hockey on Friday evening, but had not received a counterproposal from the organization, as requested.

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