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Ex-Gopher Kessel is highest-paid women's hockey player at $26K

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Former Golden Gophers hockey star Amanda Kessel is now the highest-paid women's hockey player in America.

The National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) announced that Kessel has signed a one-year, $26,000 contract with the New York Riveters. It's the biggest contract in the league, surpassing the $25,000 deal one of Kessel's former Olympic teammates signed. But Pro Hockey Talk notes that Kessel's deal could be passed with free agency ongoing.

Kessel was a star for the Gophers before a concussion sidelined her for two years. She returned to the Gophers in February and scored the winning goal in the National Championship Game.

“I am beyond excited to join the New York Riveters and the NWHL next season,” said Kessel in a press release. “It is a great opportunity to help the league continue to grow and be a future dream for young girls. The fact that little girls can now say they want to play in the NWHL is inspirational for me and the future of women's hockey.”

Kessel is now one of the marquee stars in the NWHL and she's excited about the opportunity to pioneer the sport.

"I think it’s special," Kessel told USA Today. "That time off I had dealing with my injury (she missed two years with concussion issues) really made me appreciate that and want to help women’s hockey more. The amount of support I got when I came back and started playing hockey, it was just totally unexpected. What’s really cool about this league is that little girls can now grow up and instead of thinking they want to be an NHL player, they can think, 'I want to play in the NWHL.'"

The NWHL was established in 2015. The second season in league history begins in September.

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