The two-week saga between USA Hockey and the U.S. women’s national team has come to a tentative end. On Tuesday, the sides ratified a deal that would give the women’s team a new contract and would allow it to play in the upcoming World Championships.
The news, which was first picked up late Tuesday morning, revealed that the U.S. women’s team had yet to vote on the deal, but that there was “great optimism” they’d reach a conclusion. Negotiations stalled during the day, but Kevin Allen of USA Today confirmed Tuesday evening that the sides reached a deal.
Done deal. US women have a new contract and will play in World championships. Story coming— Kevin Allen (@ByKevinAllen) March 28, 2017
The agreement includes the formation of a Women's High Performance Advisory Group of former and current players from the U.S. Women's National Team program, along with volunteer and staff leadership, to meet regularly to assist USA Hockey in efforts to advance girls' and women's hockey in all areas, including programming, marketing, promotion and fundraising. That is in addition to the focus on the grassroots hockey areas that volunteers of USA Hockey's Girls' and Women's Section have been involved with for almost 30 years.
Canada’s national women’s hockey team also has a similar coalition.
USA hockey and members of the women’s national team had been meeting in Philadelphia over the course of these last two weeks. Since, USA Hockey had reached out to players in the National Women’s Hockey League and members of the under-18 teams as they looked to field a competitive team for the World Championships.
With the new deal in place, the women’s national team will skate in the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships slated for March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.
This news comes just a few days removed from the possible men’s national team boycott of its World Championships in May. United States senators even came to the defense of the women’s national team, with Elizabeth Warren among other democratic officials penning a letter to USA Hockey in support of its efforts for "appropriate compensation."
USA Hockey was clearly pushed to the brink these last few weeks. While it resolved this manner, a large motivating factor in completing this deal on Tuesday was likely to save face at the World Championships. While USA Hockey deserves credit for finally putting a foot in the right direction, the women should not have had to boycott for equitable treatment in the first place.
The 2017 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championships run from March 31 to April 7, with the United States playing Canada on Friday.