Top women players unite, plan to hold out from NWHL for better pay, treatment

Players want better pay, health insurance and improved overall treatment.

More than 200 women's hockey players announced Thursday plans to boycott playing in any professional leagues in North America until "we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves." 

That means the sixth season of the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL), which houses the Minnesota Whitecaps, is in danger of not playing next season and beyond. 

According to the Associated Press, NWHL player salaries are not publicly released, but players were paid salaries of $10,000 to $26,000 during the 2015 season, with those salaries cut by as much as 50 percent the following season. 

Some players this past season were paid as little as $2,000, the report says. 

Kendall Coyne Schofield, who helped the Whitecaps win the league championship in their first season in the NWHL, told the AP that the current state of the league is not a "long-term, viable option for women in hockey," adding that it her opinion has to do with pay, health insurance and the treatment of players. 

The Canadian Women's Hockey League folded on Wednesday, leaving the NWHL as the only remaining pro women's league in North America. 

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According to The Athletic, the goal of the players is believed to be to created an NHL-backed women's league, which would be "difficult" to make happen until at least the 2020-21 season. 

Here's the full statement from the players. 

“We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this game that we revere so deeply and yet, more than ever, we understand the responsibility that comes with that ambassadorship: To leave this game in better shape than when we entered it. That is why we have come together, over 200 players strong, to say it is time to create a sustainable professional league for Women’s Hockey.

“While we have all accomplished so much, there is no greater accomplishment than what we have the potential to do right here and right now – not just for this generation of players, but for generations to come. With that purpose we are coming together, not as individual players, but as one collective voice to help navigate the future and protect the players needs. We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game. Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level.

“Because of that, together as players, we will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources professional hockey demands and deserves.

“We may have represented different teams, leagues, and countries – but this sport is one family. And the time is now for this family to unite. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for – our moment to come together and say we deserve more. It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world.”

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