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U.S. Women's Hockey Team May Boycott Over Pay

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USA TODAY

 

A 5 p.m. ET deadline on Thursday set by USA Hockey expired. The women's national hockey team's threatened boycott of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships didn't.

Two-time Olympian Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson told USA TODAY Sports that none of the 23 players on the roster came off their vow to skip the world championships as they seek better wages and other support from USA Hockey. USA Hockey had established the deadline earlier Thursday ahead of the tournament, set to begin at month's end.

"I don't think any of us even flinched," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "We saw this as a formality."

John Langel, the lawyer representing the players, told USA TODAY Sports that there has been no communication with USA Hockey since the players went public Wednesday morning with their intention to forgo the world championships if USA Hockey didn't increase their compensation.

"I thought they would have sat down and talked so we could make some meaningful progress," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "They just put a press release out, set this deadline, and now will go out and try to field a team."

Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday that the USA will present a team for the world championships in Plymouth, Mich., although it's not clear who will be on that squad.

Lamoureux-Davidson said that won't be easy since the national team members have been in touch with their potential replacements.

"We have the support of NCAA coaches and the NWHL (National Women's Hockey League)," she said. "I think they are going to have a hard time finding players who want to represent the U.S."

The women and USA Hockey are so far apart in negotiations that they can't even agree on how much financial support the players are currently receiving from the governing body.

Players say they receive $1,000 a month for six months from USA Hockey before an Olympic Games, and USA Hockey officials say core players receive $3,000 a month. USA Hockey's figure includes $2,000 a month that comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee's Direct Athlete Support program. Some athletes receive only $700 from that program.

The two sides haven't said how far apart they are in negotiations. At the 2014 Olympics, USA Hockey officials say the U.S. women had the potential to earn $53,000. But that total included the USOC training stipend and projected USA winning the gold medal and receiving a bonus of $25,000 from the USOC. USA won the silver and received $15,000.

U.S. players point out that the vast majority of their financial support comes from the USOC, not USA Hockey, which they view as a lack of commitment to women's hockey. That's a charge that USA Hockey officials vehemently deny.

"We have taken their interests seriously and put up a more substantial stipend and package on the table coming up to the Olympic year," Ogrean said this week.

Now, USA Hockey officials say they are offering a deal that would allow players the opportunity to pocket $85,000 if they win the gold medal.

But a chunk of that increase comes from the fact that the USOC has raised the gold medal bonus to $37,500. The silver pays $22,500 and the bronze is worth $15,000 now.

Again, players don't count the USOC bonuses, or the Direct Athlete Support, as being part of what USA Hockey is offering.

By comparison, in 2016, USA Swimming gave star Katie Ledecky $75,000 for each gold in addition to the $25,000 that she received from the USOC for each gold.

Another major issue is the fact that the women's hockey players are looking for some financial support to help them stay in the sport in non-Olympic years. USA Hockey won't go there.

"We've never had athletes as employees, male, female, sled or anyone else," Ogrean said. "That's a line we don't want to cross, and we don't think it's our charge or responsibility to do that."

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March 17, 2017
 
 
 

 

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