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Sports

USA Hockey, Women's Players Reach Agreement to Avoid Boycott

Players and USA Hockey announced the deal in a joint statement just three days before the tournament begins in Plymouth, Michigan

Meghan Duggan of the United States looks up during a face off during the second period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women's semifinal ice hockey game against Sweden at Shayba Arena Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia, photo: AP/Mark Humphrey
6 months ago

USA Hockey and the women’s national team reached a wage agreement Tuesday night to avoid a boycott of the world championships.

Players and USA Hockey announced the deal in a joint statement just three days before the tournament begins in Plymouth, Michigan. It’s a four-year agreement that pays players outside of the six-month Olympic period.

Star forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said by phone Tuesday night that getting a deal done “feels like a weight off our shoulders.” Captain Meghan Duggan said players “stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened.”

USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean said by phone that he’s “relieved” to get a deal done.

After more than a year of negotiations over wages and equitable support, players announced March 15 that they’d boycott the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship on home ice if significant progress wasn’t made toward an agreement. The sides met for 10-plus hours in person last week and continued conversations before striking a deal Tuesday.

Kacey Bellamy of the United States (R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against Sweden during the first period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s semifinal ice hockey game at Shayba Arena Monday, Feb. 17, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Photo: AP/Julio Cortez

Over the course of the public dispute, unions from the NHL, NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball and 16 U.S. senators voiced support for the players. NHL agent Allan Walsh tweeted that men’s players were considering boycotting their world championship in solidarity if a deal didn’t get done.

It took until almost the last minute, but a deal did get done that includes the formation of a women’s high performance advisory group with current and former players — like Hockey Canada has had for some time. The group’s goal is to advance girl’s and women’s hockey programing, marketing, promotion and fundraising to augment existing grassroots programs.

Players are set to travel to Plymouth on Wednesday and open the defense of their gold medal Friday against Canada. The U.S. has won six of the past eight world championships.

STEPHEN WHYNO

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