Canada’s Only Rival Might Pass on the World Championship

WINNIPEG, MB. – So many top Manitoba female hockey players have had their hearts broken by the powerhouse from the United States at the World Women’s Ice Hockey Championships.

Jocelyne Larocque, Brigette Lacquette, Jen Botterill, Bailey Bram, Halli Krzyzaniak, Delaney Collins, the list goes on. So many great Manitoba players representing Canada on solid Team Canada clubs have lost the gold medal game at the World Championship to the United States.

But that might not happen this year.

Yesterday, members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team say they will boycott the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship after a breakdown in negotiations with USA Hockey. The announcement was made by the law firm representing the players, Ballard Spahr.

The players claimed they would “not to participate” in the tournament, a tournament they’ve won six times, after negotiations with USA Hockey to “secure fair wages and support,” fell apart this week.

“I don’t know why in 2017 women have to fight for the same support, treatment and wages (as men) within the same organization, but that’s why our team is taking a stand,” captain Meghan Duggan, a two-time Olympian and member of six World Championship teams, told USA TODAY Sports.

Players were slated to arrive for training camp next week USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. The world championship, the first hosted by the United States, will begin March 31.

Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, told USA TODAY Sports that there will be a U.S. team competing in the World Championships even if the current player’s boycott.

“We have had that conversation on an ongoing basis for the last couple of weeks, and I’m asking my staff as early as this morning if we have a Plan B,” Ogrean said. “I was given a succinct, positive one-word answer: Yes,”

The players, who have never had a collective bargaining agreement with USA Hockey, are seeking a four-year contract, said John Langel, one of the lawyers representing the players, in a written statement.

Players have individual contracts with USA Hockey and are paid $1,000 per month for the six months prior to the Winter Olympics. They receive no other compensation from USA Hockey. The U.S. Olympic Committee pays members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team a stipend to represent the country at the World Championship and a bonus based on Olympic success.

“In our role as the national governing body, USA Hockey trains and selects teams for international competition,” said Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey. “USA Hockey’s role is not to employ athletes and we will not do so. USA Hockey will continue to provide world-leading support for our athletes.”

According to its news release, USA Hockey said it would offer “additional support stipends and incentives for medals” that could increase a player’s income to almost $85,000 during the six-month Olympic training and performance period. That sum would be in addition to “housing allowance, travel allowances, meal expenses, medical and disability insurance.”

“The statement is incredibly misleading because it couples the USOC’s payments which it gives to all athletes and assumes the players win gold,” Langel said. “Of the $85,000, more than $60,000 would come from the USOC, again, assuming they win gold. Further, it covers only the Olympic period and does not cover each of the other three years during which a World Championship is played.”

No USA roster has been announced yet, but if the best American players do decide to boycott, Canada will be a prohibitive favourite to win gold.

-Scott Taylor, MyToba Sports

Photo – Hockey Canada

Editor of the popular Game On Hockey Magazine and The Point After Football Magazine, editor of Canadian Meat Business Magazine, sports editor of Grassroots News, TV play-by-play voice of the Winnipeg Goldeyes and author of the bestselling book: The Winnipeg Jets: A Celebration of Professional Hockey in Winnipeg. He likes virgin pina coladas, long walks on the beach, puppies and thoroughbred race horses that run according to form.
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