May 2, 2019 / 5:35 PM / a month ago

Women won't play pro hockey without changes

A group of more than 200 female hockey players announced Thursday they will not play in any pro hockey league until changes are made.

FILE PHOTO: NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly looks on at a news conference prior to the ice hockey NHL Global Series match of the Florida Panthers vs Winnipeg Jets in Helsinki, Finland November 1, 2018. Lehtikuva/Martti Kainulainen via REUTERS

“We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game,” said a statement from the group, released by individual players on social media Thursday. “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 that professional hockey demands and deserves.”

The group includes players such as Team USA stars Kendall Coyne Sheffield and Hilary Knight, as well as Marie Philip-Poulin of Team Canada.

The future of professional women’s hockey has moved to the forefront since the Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced in March that is would fold in May after 12 years in operation, citing financial reasons.

ESPN reported Thursday that players hope their stand will urge the NHL to take action to support women’s professional hockey.

The U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League now is the only professional hockey league for women in North America.

“As long as elite women hockey players have professional opportunities, it is not an environment we are prepared to wade into in any formal way,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN when the CWHL folded. “We have always supported professional women’s hockey, and we plan to continue to do so. That doesn’t mean we need to form or directly subsidize an existing professional league.”

The NHL previously gave $50,000 a year to each of the women’s pro leagues in North America. It raised its contribution to the NWHL to $100,000 with the announcement of the folding of the CWHL, according to ESPN.

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