On Thursday, May 2, 2019, professional female hockey players across the globe released a joint statement announcing a plan to sit out of the 2019-2020 pro hockey season with the goal of having one league. This move comes on the heels of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League deciding to cease operations effective May 1, 2019. This star-studded group of over 200 hockey players includes Kendall Coyne-Schofield, Natalie Spooner, Shannon Szabados, Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin.
This is not the first time in recent history that female hockey players have taken matters into their own hands for the betterment of working conditions and wages. In March of 2017, USA National Women’s Hockey Team decided to boycott the IIHF World Championships. They had negotiated with USA Hockey on matters such as travel arrangements, insurance and wages. They were able to settle and went on to win gold on home ice in Plymouth, MI.
The statement was released with a uniform caption which read, “We may represent different teams, leagues and countries but collectively we stand as one #ForTheGame”, cementing that the players are a united front.
The National Women’s Hockey League, which some of these athletes are a part of, released a statement following the news stating “NWHL leadership respects the wishes of all players to consider their options, and they know we are always available to meet, to participate in open communication addressing their concerns and exchanging ideas, and to collaborate with the players on one league.” They confirmed to fans that their plans to start the league’s fifth season in October are still intact.
The chance of anyone being able to get a league up and running which fits the demands of the athletes for the coming season is highly unlikely at this point. It is also improbable that the National Hockey League will step in to develop a place for them to play. Commissioner Gary Bettman has made it clear multiple times that they didn’t believe either the business model of the NWHL or the CWHL. They have refused to step in until there is a “void”.
Female hockey players around the world have given up playing in the 2019-2020 season for girls involved in hockey everywhere. This movement will change the future of women’s hockey forever. It will be called upon from history as inspiration for girls and women everywhere to believe in themselves and their worth.
These women inspire me everyday! They are strong, educated, passionate, and incredible ambassadors for the sport of hockey. They have done their homework and are standing united. #ForTheGame https://t.co/9h2H5pCmgS
— Cassie Campbell-Pascall (@CassieCampbell) May 2, 2019
Feature Image- Instagram: @thecwhl