In an announcement today, 200 women’s hockey players—among them Team USA stars Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield—pledged to boycott all North American professional women’s hockey leagues until those leagues start paying players livable wages.
Knight tweeted out the statement from her personal Twitter account:
Earlier this month, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) disbanded entirely, leaving players who want to work and live in North America with only the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) as an option. A merging of the two leagues was once seen as a viable solution for the problems plaguing women’s hockey, but the CWHL’s abrupt folding left the NWHL, which has a lengthy history of financial hardship, to try and fill the void that was left behind. The NWHL was also hoping to get increased support from the NHL, but after the CWHL’s folding, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman only went so far as to raise his league’s annual contribution to the NWHL from $50,000 to $100,000.
As the statement released by Knight and the other players points out, some players in the league make as little as $2,000 per season, and are not offered health insurance. The goal of this boycott is to put more pressure on the NHL to increase its financial and institutional support of women’s professional hockey. Given that Bettman’s current level of support amounts to a few more dollars than NHL teams give away to lucky fans for winning contests between periods, that doesn’t seem like a lot to ask.