The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

U.S. men’s hockey players may boycott world championships in solidarity with women’s team

Hilary Knight celebrates after scoring against Finland goaltender Meeri Raisanen during a women’s world hockey championships game in Canada on March 29, 2016. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)
Placeholder while article actions load

The U.S. women’s national team, which is planning to boycott the women’s ice hockey world championships that begin Thursday in Plymouth, Mich., over a wage dispute with USA Hockey, received messages of support in recent days from the NHL Players’ Association, as well as the unions that represent NBA, NFL, MLB and WNBA players. On Sunday, Octagon agent Allan Walsh, whose clients include Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, tweeted that the U.S. men’s national hockey team could also boycott the men’s world championships in a show of solidarity.

Walsh’s report came two days after the NHLPA issued a statement in response to USA Hockey’s attempts to find replacement players for the women’s world championships.

“It is important that the best American women players be on the ice for the world championship and the notion of seeking replacement players will only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse,” the NHLPA wrote, in part.

Why the United States’ best women’s hockey players are threatening to strike

Several women’s hockey players, including Brittany Ott, a goalie in the National Women’s Hockey League, told the Associated Press that USA Hockey inquired about their availability for the world championships last week.

“From a personal standpoint, I have never been invited to a USA Hockey series or camp or anything like that, and I would honestly love to be invited to something like that,” Ott told the AP. “However, at the current time, this is a fight that I believe in, and I’m definitely going to stand up and help fight as much as I can.”

The women’s national team is seeking fair wages and more year-round support from USA Hockey, which pays members of the women’s team “virtually nothing” during non-Olympic years and and $1,000 per month during the six months leading up to the Olympics. The U.S. team won silver medals at the past two Olympics and gold medals at the past two world championships.

“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought,” U.S. women’s national team captain Meghan Duggan said in a statement issued by the lawyers representing the team. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”

Hilary Knight, a 27-year-old forward on the U.S. women’s national team, told The Post’s Will Hobson earlier this month that sitting out the world championships would be painful, but necessary.

“It’s a huge sacrifice that we’re putting the world championship on the line, and I think that speaks volumes,” Knight said. “Equitable is the key word. For us, it’s not an unreasonable ask.”

The 2017 men’s world championships, which will be held in France and Germany, are scheduled to begin May 5.