USA Hockey Has Alternative Plan If Women's Team Decides To Boycott World Championships
Instead of "sensing the public-relations nightmare that looms" in the form of the U.S. women's national hockey team potentially boycotting the IIHF World Championships, USA Hockey Exec Dir Dave Ogrean has "stunningly doubled down in his fight" against the team, according to Christine Brennan of USA TODAY. When asked if there would be a U.S. team at the event, Ogrean yesterday said, "We have had that conversation on an ongoing basis for the last couple of weeks, and asking my staff as early as this morning if we have a Plan B, and I was given a succinct, positive one-word answer: ‘Yes.'" Brennan writes a team of replacement players would be an "utterly disastrous decision" for Ogrean, USA Hockey and the USOC. Using replacement players would "send shock waves through nearly every Olympic sport." A NGB "declaring war on its star athletes" would "instantly become one of the U.S. Olympic movement's darkest hours." The women's team is simply looking for "respect for women in a sport led by men and for the acknowledgment of a job well done by a nation that craves winning more than almost anything else" (USA TODAY, 3/16). USA Hockey said that it "plans to continue dialogue with the team" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 3/16). In N.Y., Seth Berkman notes the eight-team tournament begins March 31 in Plymouth, Mich., and the absence of the American players "would be a damaging public relations blow" to USA Hockey. U.S. LW Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said, "It’s the culmination of trying to negotiate for 14 months and getting nowhere. We hope that significant progress can be made" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16). TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted, "Team USA captain @mduggan10 response to @usahockey release: 'Incredibly dishonest and misleading.' Looks like both sides set to dig in." Fox Sports' Pete Blackburn: "Just talked to Hilary Knight, who said USA Hockey’s written response to women's boycott was 'inaccurate and dishonest at best'" (TWITTER.com, 3/16).
KIND OF A BIG DEAL: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes the team’s potential boycott "matters because the U.S. women are the defending world champs." They are "one of only four or five quality teams in the world, making their presence essential to the legitimacy of any major tournament." The women also "aren’t asking USA Hockey to make them millionaires." They "take issue with an organization" that in '15 reported $42M in revenues "paying the players just $1,000 per month in the six months leading up to the Olympics" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/16). ESPNW's Johnette Howard wrote the team is "willing to risk everything -- starting with sacrificing the chance to compete, something no elite athlete wants to surrender." The women's senior squad has "been the jewel of the U.S. Olympic program, and yet significant parts of their treatment don't exceed even the perks given to the boys' under-18 teams, let alone the men's Olympic teams laden with NHL players" (ESPNW.com, 3/15). POSTMEDIA NEWS' Steve Ewen notes former Canadian women's player Cassie Campbell "isn't surprised" that the U.S. team is "talking about boycotting." Campbell: "They aren’t asking for anything crazy. They want more medical coverage. They want things like that. They want, when you unveil a new USA Hockey jersey, to at least have a woman there, too" (POSTMEDIA NEWS, 3/16).
STILL FIGHTING: In N.Y. Juliet Macur writes under the header, "U.S. Women's Hockey Team Boycott Echoes A Fight That Isn't Over." The dispute, "like most labor disputes, is about money." U.S. F Meghan Duggan said, "It’s hard to believe that in 2017, we have to fight so hard just to get equitable support. We want to do the fair thing, and the right thing -- not just for hockey but for all women" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16). YAHOO SPORTS' Jen Neale wrote the team "sent a wake-up call to the 'old boys club' that runs USA Hockey at a crucial point in American politics." Neale: "More now than ever the issues of women's inequality are taking precedent in the United States" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/15).
TWITTER REAX: USA Today's Brennan: "USA Hockey pays women's team members just $6,000 for four years. That's $1,500 per year. You read that correctly. How can they not boycott?" ESPN's John Buccigross: "I completely support the USA Hockey women boycotting World Championships over wages. They deserve better & not just because they are good." Gold Medal-winning U.S. hockey player Mike Eruzione: "Good luck to the women's US hockey program as they hopefully can come to an agreement with USA hockey. You have my support."