Hundreds of ice hockey players join NWHL protest over state of women's game

Knight, right, celebrates after winning Gold in Pyeongchang in 2018 (PA Images)
Knight, right, celebrates after winning Gold in Pyeongchang in 2018 (PA Images) (PA Images)
8:26am, Thu 15 Aug 2019
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

More than 200 professional female ice hockey players will sit out the NWHL season in protest for a more sustainable league for Women's Hockey.

Using the hashtag #forthegame, Olympic gold medal winner and eight-time world champion Hilary Knight plus 200 of the world's top female ice hockey players announced that they would not participate in the 2019 National Women's Hockey League (NWHL) or any other professional competition in North America. 

The movement started after players were told that one of their two professional competitions, the Canadian Women's Hockey League (CWHL) was folding. 

The NWHL's salary cap was sliced in 2016 from US$270,000 to just US$100,000 per team. To put this in perspective, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers was paid US$15 million for the 2018/19 NHL Season.

Most players in the five-team NWHL must hold down second jobs as they cannot earn a living wage despite their 'professional' title.

"We attached the word professional to the CWHL and NWHL for years now and, to be honest, I don't think it's professional whatsoever," said Knight.

Knight, who has picked up countless awards and accolades including CWHL's most outstanding player award, added: "There are 200-plus women in the world willing to forego playing in it to build something better."

"We have a grander vision of what the sport should look like, not only from a players' perspective, but also the needs of future generations."

She went on to say: "So I think that's where the intent is, to build and cultivate the best group of women to be able to go and do that."

The movement is fitting with the current drive regarding coverage of women's sport. The Women's FIFA World Cup this summer was a prime example of the direction female sports are hoping to go and Knight and her compatriots will be looking to this for motivation.

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