In just their second season in existence, the National Women’s Hockey League is facing a major setback.
The NWHL informed its players and teams on Thursday that it will slash salaries in a desperate attempt to keep the league financially afloat for the long-term. League commissioner and founder Dani Rylan blamed the necessity on lower attendance in Year 2 and the lack of a media deal.
When it was founded, the NWHL made history as the only women’s professional hockey league to pay its players.
When spoken to on a conference call on Friday afternoon, Rylan confirmed the salary cuts but not the amount reported, declining to discuss specifics out of respect for the players. League management, however, will not have their salaries cut.
Rylan: Players will continue to receive commission on jersey and shirsey sales #NWHL— Jen Neale (@MsJenNeale_PD) November 18, 2016
NWHL’s Dani Rylan said Dunkin’ Donuts, league sponsor, immediately anted up $50K for players after hearing salary cut news.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 18, 2016
Rylan noted that the league will honor the players’ contracts if improvements are seen in the second half of the season. And somewhat surprisingly, she confirmed the players’ association was not involved in this.
Despite the NWHL having mulled the decision for quite some time, Rylan said the players were informed of the cuts on Thursday night. She said it was a decision made without any input or negotiation with the National Women’s Hockey League Players Association, which allegedly represents the players in such matters. “[They] didn’t have a say,” said Rylan of her league’s players.
This is just the latest in a series of concerning revelations that have dogged the NWHL since its inception. The league’s former Chief Marketing Officer filed a $650,000 lawsuit against Rylan and the league in April, and in March news surfaced that the league had failed to pay Bauer Hockey on time for equipment in order to fund player salaries.
NWHL’s Dani Rylan says “this is a huge setback for us, but the future is still bright.”— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) November 18, 2016
Make sure to follow The Ice Garden, SB Nation’s women’s hockey blog, as this story develops.