Women’s Professional Hockey Stars Announce Boycott Alongside 200 Others

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Women's Professional Hockey players Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne.
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22: Gold medal winners Kendall Coyne #26 and Hilary Knight #21 of the United States celebrate after defeating Canada in a shootout in the Women's Gold Medal Game on day thirteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 22, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

In a shared statement from various NWHL players, over 200 women are willing to boycott women’s professional hockey in North America. The players currently are paid less than $3,000 annually. They also have to pay for their own health care. Those are the two main changes that they are asking for. Some of the key names that plan to hold out include Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne-Schofield.

The NWHL set records during the 2018-19 season in attendance with the Minnesota Whitecaps selling out all 10 of their home games. Over 6,000 people attended the All-Star game in Nashville, which was the most for a professional women’s game in North America. The All-Star game and Skills Challenge combined drew over a million viewers on Twitter as well.

Players Join Forces to Boycott Women’s Professional Hockey

The NWHL released a statement this afternoon addressing the issues and their plans for next season.

The NHL was providing both the CWHL and the NWHL $50,000 a year to help support them. Now that the CWHL has folded the NHL is now giving the NWHL $100,000 a year. At the moment, it doesn’t seem like the NHL will up that number.

With so many players showing support for the boycott, the leagues will clearly have to act fast. In his article on the news, TSN’s Bob McKenzie goes into depth about the boycott and the NHL’s reaction. He mentions that NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, was quoted in saying, “What we have said is, if there’s no opportunity for women to play professional hockey, then we would explore what would make sense or might be appropriate,” following the disbanding of the CWHL.

Women around the leagues have voiced their hesitations with the boycotting. There is a clear worry that this will simply lead to the NWHL folding and no professional women’s levels being available to the players, although that’s seemingly a risk they’re willing to take. Following the announcement, Hilary Knight said, “We’re willing to figure out things as we go. We don’t know what the future holds or what it will look like, but we’re confident this is the right thing for the sport.”

Team Canada forward Brianne Jenner and goaltender Liz Knox echo this confidence. The latter, who was a co-chair for the CWHL, mentioned that “One hundred percent it’s a big risk. But how long do we want to suffer through this and keep doing the same thing over and over again before we say: ‘There’s got to be better for us.'” She continues by adding, “Here are the players saying this is not enough. We’ve earned better than this. We’ve earned the respect we have, and we deserve what we’re asking for.”

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