Members of the U.S. women’s national hockey team will skip the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship after a breakdown in negotiations with USA Hockey, the law firm representing the players, Ballard Spahr, announced on Wednesday.
The players vowed “not to participate” in the tournament they’ve won six times after “more than a year of stalled negotiations with USA Hockey to secure fair wages and support,” according to a news release.
Players were scheduled to arrive in Plymouth, Mich., for training camp next week ahead of the world championship, which begin March 31.
“We are asking for a living wage and for USA Hockey to fully support its programs for women and girls and stop treating us like an afterthought,” captain Meghan Duggan, a two-time Olympian and member of six World Championship teams, said in a statement. “We have represented our country with dignity and deserve to be treated with fairness and respect.”
Messages left with USA Hockey by USA TODAY Sports were not immediately returned.
"To voluntarily take ourselves out of the running to do that is not easy, but it's what's right and we're asking for what's right and fair," Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson told the Associated Press. "It's definitely hard. But as a group we've made this decision and as a team and I'm proud to do this with my teammates and to stand arm in arm with them and to say enough is enough."
The players, who have never had a collective bargaining with USA Hockey, are seeking a four-year contract, John Langel, one of the lawyers representing the players, told USA TODAY Sports.
“We had one productive meeting in October and several players were present,” said Langel, who has been negotiating on behalf of the players for a year. “We thought we had made some progress, but I guess our conclusions were wrong because we have not made any progress since.”
Asked if there’s a way to avoid the boycott, Langel said, “We have invited (USA Hockey) to continue discussions."
"We all want to go play," Lamoureux-Davidson said. "But it's been 14 months and we haven't seen progress, so if there's progress within the next week and a half, we'll see. But there needs to be significant steps taken and hopefully USA Hockey finds this significant enough to want to start making progress with us."
Players have contracts with USA Hockey individually and receive $1,000 per month for six months prior to the Winter Olympics and receive no other compensation from USA Hockey, according to Langel.
The World Championship will not affect the United States' qualification for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.