USA TODAY Sports’ A.J. Perez explains why the USA women’s hockey team is boycotting the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship.
USA TODAY Sports
The 23 members of US women’s hockey team believed they had an agreement with USA Hockey last week to end their standoff before the governing body reversed course.
The tentative deal — which included substantial increases in wages and other benefits — was agreed to during meetings in Philadelphia last Monday between the players and their representatives, and USA Hockey executives. But the deal was rebuffed by USA Hockey’s 15-member executive committee, a person with knowledge of the negotiations who is unable to speak publicly told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday.
The players were informed Thursday that the USA Hockey executive committee had rejected that original agreement, the person with knowledge of the talks said. The players received a counter offer that they found “unacceptable” and it was quickly rejected.
Thursday was the same day that USA Hockey began to seek out replacement players for the IIHF Women’s Hockey World Championships set to begin in Plymouth, Mich., on Friday. Those efforts included efforts to lure in high school students and adult league players to be replacement players.
USA Hockey spokesperson Dave Fischer said it was “patently false” that the executive committee voted down the original proposal. He described the talks as “ongoing.”
“This has been a challenging process,” two-time Olympian and Team USA forward Hilary Knight told USA TODAY Sports in a text message. “But the fight for what’s right isn’t easy. Thankfully our group is united, passionate, and supported so widely. Tomorrow is our chance to make history for every woman on the ice today and every little girl who’s just lacing up her skates for the first time. We’re hopeful for them and for us that we’ll get the change that is long overdue.”
An emergency board meeting is scheduled to take place via teleconference at noon ET on Monday, according to a member of the 92-member board who declined to speak publicly because of the sensitive nature of the talks.
The board members are expected to vote to approve the original deal voted down by the executive board last week.
“We are hopeful that at tomorrow’s meeting of USA Hockey’s board of directors, the members will agree to the terms that those at the negotiating table in Philadelphia saw as a reasonable path forward,” the players said in a statement on Sunday. “Those terms reflected 15 months of negotiations and significant compromise by parties on both sides. We are incredibly grateful for the support we have received from the hockey community, professional players associations across the sports world, fans, and beyond.
“Let’s seize this opportunity for the players and USA Hockey to make history together as we elevate the sport of hockey for everyone—girls, boys, women, and men. This agreement has the potential to be a game changer for everyone.”