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Report: 200 professional athletes to boycott women’s hockey season

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‘One League’ hopes meet strong opposition

As reported by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, some 200 women’s hockey players have unified to demand an overhaul of women’s professional hockey.

Their statement is as follows:

This news comes 24 hours after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League ceased operations following 12 seasons of play. The league was home to international superstars Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin, and its most recent season featured many of Knight’s Team USA teammates, alongside most of the Hockey Canada roster.

Following the March announcement that the CWHL had played its final season, North America’s only remaining professional league, the National Women’s Hockey League, announced expansion from its five teams in the United States to include at least two markets in Canada.

The move was met with vocal resistance from the displaced CWHL players, though few were forthcoming about a decision regarding the 2019-20 season.

McKenzie reports that players from Team USA and Hockey Canada prior to last month’s IIHF Women’s World Championships in Finland to discuss this bold boycott.

Canadian forward Brianne Jenner told TSN the on-ice enemies have come together to better the game; ““It’s a little different now,” Jenner said. “On the ice, we are rivals. It’s still very intense. But over the years a lot of [Canadian and Americans] have played on the same club teams so off the ice, there are more friendships now. We know that our power comes from being united. We’re all in this together. We have a common goal.”

We’ll have more updates as they come available.

Since this publication, DBTB has learned:

  • Not all players are on board. One athlete, who wished to remain anonymous, told us, “This demand and hope to fold all of the progress Women’s hockey has made, and force hundreds of players into retirement so HOPEFULLY during a CBA negotiation period the NHL launches a WoHo league is (in my opinion) not what we need”
  • Players who are involved have been asked to issue the statement above when contacted by the press.

UPDATED 05/05/2019

  • Athletes in European leagues have been tweeting the same statement.
  • One such athlete told DBTB that she didn’t think Euro leagues were involved in the potential boycott yet.
  • Bill Daly of the NHL issued the following statement to the press:

“What is going on now with the kind of shut down of the CWHL and now the this boycott of the NWHL it’s not ideal for anybody,” he said. “We’ll see how it all plays out. We certainly want to preserve the ability of women players to play at the highest level. So it’s really too early to say how that is going to play out and how the NHL’s role will or won’t be going forward. We’re going to have to be observers.”

However; in an e-mail to Sportsnet, said “The NWHL is an existing organization with a business and futures plans. We have always supported their objective of creating a professional option for elite women’s hockey players. And we have no interest in, or intention of interfering with those plans. So, I don’t anticipate any further reaction or announcement from the NHL pending us understanding the situation better, including plans for next steps”

  • The NFLPA & NHLPA issued statements of support on twitter, in varying degrees. There has been no indication that support is extended beyond tweets. Similarly, equipment companies Bauer and CCM have shown support for the women, with Bauer issuing a plea to the NHL. Mary-Kay Messier, who is a vice president with the company, stated the following:

“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,” she wrote on Twitter. “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.”

  • The Athletic reported on Friday that a source told them The Buffalo Beauts may not move forward with the NWHL if the league pushes forward for the season. The implication is that the organization - a founding team in the league - would cut ties with the NWHL in support of the current movement. Every member of the Beauts that has a social media account has joined the movement.
  • DBTB has reached out to the team for comment. Those requests have not been answered at this time.