AP NEWS

Reaction to women’s hockey decision to boycott

May 2, 2019
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FILE - In this March 4, 2018, file photo, Hilary Knight, of the gold medal winning U.S. women's Olympic hockey team, attends a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match between the United States and France, in Harrison, N.J. More than 200 of the top female hockey players in the world have decided they will not play professionally in North America next season, hoping their stand leads to a single economically sustainable league. The announcement Thursday, May 2, 2019, comes after the Canadian Women's Hockey League abruptly shut down as of Wednesday, leaving the five-team, U.S.-based National Women's Hockey League as the only pro league in North America. The group of players, led by American stars Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield and Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados, hopes their move eventually pushes the NHL to start its own women's hockey league as the NBA did with the WNBA. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano, File)

More than 200 female hockey players announced Thursday they will not play professionally in North America next season, hoping their stand leads to a single economically sustainable league. The Canadian Women’s Hockey League recently shut down leaving the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League as the only pro league in North America. Some of the reaction to the players’ decision:

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“There is a lot more we need to know before we would be prepared to weigh in at this point. The NWHL is an existing league with an existing organization and business plan. We do not intend to interfere with their business or their objectives. ... We will further explore the situation privately before taking any affirmative position on next steps. And we do not anticipate this being an agenda item for the Board of Governors at this early stage.” — NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.

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“NWHL leadership respects the wishes of all players to consider their options, and they know we are always available to meet, to participate in open communication addressing their concerns and exchanging ideas, and to collaborate with the players on one league. In the meantime, our plans continue for Season 5 of the NWHL to begin in October. After a series of highly constructive and positive discussions with the NWHL Players’ Association over the last month, we are offering increased salaries and a 50-50 revenue split from league-level sponsorships and media rights deals. Coming off an incredible 2018-19, we are confident another fantastic season is ahead. — NWHL statement.

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“Anything new is challenging and it’s scary, but at the same time, I feel like it’s a risk worth taking. Worst case is we just fall back into pedaling around the current leagues that we have. That would be unfortunate, and I don’t think that’s going to happen. But we have a chance to create a better future. We have a chance to build, to continue to be pioneers in our sport, and we’re going to take that opportunity.” — U.S. national team forward Hilary Knight.

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“It’s strength in numbers. It’s coming from all of us. It’s not just a few of us. It’s not just players who play for one league or the other. It’s over 200 of us that kind of want to stop being pulled in 10 different directions and kind of get all our resources under one roof.” — Canada National team goalie Shannon Szabados.

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“If you don’t have women at the table when it concerns women’s hockey and making those decisions, I think those decisions aren’t necessarily made for what’s in the best interest of women’s hockey. I think it’s really important. We’ve had players at the table for important conversations, and that’s going to continue to need to happen in the future.” — U.S. national team player Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

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“The unity of the players speaks volumes to what is so important to what comes next. Over 200 players strong are in this together and want to find the most viable and sustainable option for professional women’s hockey.” — U.S. national team player Kendall Coyne Schofield.

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“It’s great. They’re the best in the world at what they do. They should be compensated accordingly. They want to be able to play a sport they love and there’s certainly a platform there that they’re using and using it very, very well. Everyone in this locker room supports them. Having a sister, it’s really important to do those things.” — Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole

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“They work their whole life just like the guys do, training, go play four years at college in hopes of making the national team. As much as we continue to grow that, it’s good for the NHL, it’s good for the sport in general. ... The more people we can get playing hockey, the more girls we can get playing hockey, is better for the sport.” — Colorado Avalanche forward J.T. Compher, whose sister Jesse plays at Boston University.

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“I believe that in order to develop a long-term viable women’s professional hockey program, the National Hockey League must be in an ownership position. It’s not just about financial support. It’s about a long-term vision and the required resources, including the expertise, to effectively promote the women’s game.” — Mary-Kay Messier, Bauer Hockey vice president of global marketing.

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“Now we’re at a spot where a place to play is not enough. We should be demanding more than that, and we are now. We shouldn’t be having to buy our own stick tape. It’s insane some of the things we’ve become complacent in because we’re so thankful just to play hockey.” — goalie and CWHL Players’ Association co-chair Liz Knox.

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“Female athletes deserve to live the life they envisioned as kids: playing the sport they love, and making a living doing it. I stand with all female athletes in their pursuit of equal pay and a sustainable future. #ForTheGame #OneVoice” — tennis great Billie Jean King on Twitter.