USA Hockey, women's national team reach contract agreement

- USA Hockey finalized an agreement Tuesday with the U.S. Women’s National Team that would give players additional support between Olympic years and help them grow the women’s game, ending the team’s boycott of the upcoming World Championships. 

The women’s national team and USA Hockey had been negotiating for more than a year over wages and equitable support. On March 15, the USWNT announced they would boycott the World Championships if significant progress wasn’t made toward an agreement.

The players had been seeking a four-year deal that included payments outside the six-month Olympic period more support and recognition from the sport’s governing body on a level comparable to what the men’s team receives.

USA Hockey previously paid the players just $1,000 a month during the six months around the Olympics and virtually nothing in the three and half years in between, despite expecting the players to continue to train full time and compete during non-Olympic years.

Approximately half the players on the women’s national team hold second or third jobs and many others rely on financial support from family members, according to a press release from the lawyers representing the players. 

“There's a compensation piece but also from a marketing and PR standpoint, we're looking for more support, more recognition from our national governing body and, quite frankly, equitable treatment to what the men receive.” Captain Meghan Duggan told NPR earlier this month.

The new contract would pay players approximately $3,000 a month, with annual compensation of more than $70,000 when combined with contributions from the U.S. Olympic Committee, the Associated Press reported.

“We look forward to the future with great anticipation,” Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “This process has, in the end, made us better.”

Players will also receive Olympic medal bonuses from both USA Hockey and the USOC for the winning an Olympic medal in the upcoming winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in 2018. The team won a silver medal at the Sochi in 2014.

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Meghan Duggan, captain of the women’s national team, said in a statement. “We stood up for what was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The USWNT roster includes a number of Minnesota natives, University of Minnesota women’s hockey team players and members of the Minnesota Whitecaps.  

The players will take the ice on Friday in Plymouth, Michigan to defend their gold medal against archrival Canada.

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