USA Hockey and the country’s national women’s ice hockey team have reached an agreement to end a wage dispute, in a deal that seemingly dispels any lasting concerns over a boycott of the forthcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships.
National team players have been in talks over pay and equitable support for over a year, but had been unable to come to an agreement with the sport’s governing body in the US.
On March 15, players announced that they would boycott the upcoming national team event if no further progress was made on the deal. This year’s competition will take place in the US from March 31 to April 7.
However, following prolonged talks that began last week and ended yesterday (Tuesday), USA Hockey and national team players said in a joint statement that a deal had been reached and any threat of a boycott had been lifted.
“Today reflects everyone coming together and compromising in order to reach a resolution for the betterment of the sport,” USA Hockey president Jim Smith said. “We’ll now move forward together knowing we’ll look back on this day as one of the most positive in the history of USA Hockey.”
The Associated Press news agency said that the contract is worth between $3,000 (€2,800) and $4,000 per month, which is a significant increase on the $1,000-a-month players were paid around the 2014 winter Olympic Games. The deal will run for four years, paying players beyond the normal six-month Olympic window.
Combined with money players already receive from the United States Olympic Committee, national team members could earn more than $70,000 each year. This could reach $129,000 should the team win a gold medal at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, one of the star players on the national team, said: “It's going to be a turning point for women’s hockey in the US (and) I feel like a turning point for women's hockey in the world. There was compromises on both sides, but the contract in its entirety, it’s going to change the lives of the current players that are on the team right now but also for the next generation.”
Lamoureux-Davidson also said that despite the threat of a boycott, the team has been preparing for the upcoming Championships as normal: “Even though this has been going on for two weeks, we’ve all still been preparing – working out, training, skating and doing what we need to do to be ready to go. We’ll be all ready to go. I'm not worried about that one bit.”
The USA are the reigning world champions and have won six of the past eight IIHF World Championships.