USA Hockey To Reach Out To Women's Team As Self-Appointed Deadline Passes
USA Hockey is "expected to reach out to players" on its women's national team, as well as their reps, in an effort to "restart negotiations over a labor dispute that has put their participation in the upcoming IIHF World Championships in jeopardy," according to Johnette Howard of ESPNW.com. The federation had "asked players to respond" by 5:00pm ET Thursday to an email request "asking each to individually state whether she intended to play in the tournament" beginning March 31. However, members of the team "declined to respond." USA Hockey Senior Dir of Communications Dave Fischer in an interview late Thursday night said that the deadline was "never intended to be any sort of ultimatum, and that the federation has attempted to reach out to the team and its legal counsel to reopen talks." Fischer: "There will be efforts to have conversations. Ultimately, where it ends is the great unknown, I guess. But there will be further conversation. Again, the desire is to resolve this." Philadelphia-based attorney John Langel, who reps the players, said that he had "not yet heard directly from USA Hockey but the players welcomed reopening negations that could avert their boycott" (ESPNW.com, 3/16). U.S. F Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson on Thursday night said, “We are ready to work with USA Hockey and start talking about what progress looks like." In N.Y., Seth Berkman notes the players are "seeking upgrades including an increase in compensation that would assist with living wages." USA Hockey currently "provides only $1,000 per month during the six-month Olympic residency period every four years." In addition, the players "want more investment in girls’ hockey programs and development efforts, including more competitive games during non-Olympic years" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/17).
MONEY TALKS: USA Hockey officials said that they are "offering a deal that would allow players the opportunity to pocket $85,000" if they win the Gold Medal at the '18 PyeongChang Games. But USA TODAY's Allen & Brennan note a "chunk of that increase comes from the USOC raising the gold medal bonus to $37,500." The silver "pays $22,500 and the bronze is worth $15,000." Players "don't count the USOC bonuses, or the Direct Athlete Support, as being part of what USA Hockey is offering" (USA TODAY, 3/17).
THE REPLACEMENTS: ESPN.com's Craig Custance wrote if USA Hockey is "ultimately moving to Plan B, moving away from the best women hockey players in the country to find a team less willing to stand up for its rights, it's going to have to move far down the list." U.S. F Meghan Duggan "took it upon herself to make about 100 phone calls on Thursday to the entire pool of women's hockey players in the national program to make sure they were all still united, that the unrest didn't just sit with the women currently on the roster." Custance reported they "weren't calls to drum up support," as that is something the women "already have." It was "just an effort to stay united, to say thanks." It is "support that has been unanimous among the best women hockey players in this country" (ESPN.com, 3/16). U.S. F Hilary Knight said of the potential USA Hockey could put together a substitute team, "I dare them to put something together. It's really unfortunate that that is their response" ("OTL," ESPN, 3/16).