Women’s hockey players have announced the creation of a new players association with the main priority of forming a single and united league.
The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association comes after more than 200 athletes — including stars Marie-Philip Poulin, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Hilary Knight, Shannon Szabados, Amanda Kessel, Brianna Decker, Brianne Jenner and Noora Raty — announced they would sit out the upcoming season in protest.
“We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this beautiful game and it is our responsibility to make sure the next generation of players have more opportunities than we had,” Olympic gold medallist Coyne Schofield said in a press release on Monday. “It’s time to stand together and work to create a viable league that will allow us to enjoy the benefits of our hard work.”
The organization has promised to work with businesses who have supported women’s hockey in the past and to push for a business model that incentivizes training programs for young female athletes, infrastructure and health insurance in order to guarantee a sustainable future for the sport.
“We know we can make this work and we want a chance to try,” said Szabados, a Canadian goaltender.
The National Women’s Hockey League, currently the sole professional women’s hockey league in North America after the CWHL officially folded on May 1, recently lost the aid of multiple NHL teams.
Buffalo Sabres owner Kim Pegula relinquished control of the Buffalo Beauts earlier this month and the New Jersey Devils were reported to end relationships with the Metropolitan Rivers. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports in April that the league would not intervene with any existing women’s league.
“What we have said is, if there’s no opportunity for women to play professional hockey, then we would explore what would make sense or might be appropriate,” Bettman said shortly after the CWHL announced it would be folding. “But by the same token, I didn’t want to be presumptuous or be even bully-like and say we’re going to start a league and put them out of business. I didn’t think that was appropriate.”
The NHL Players’ Association expressed support for the #Forthegame movement, saying it was “encouraged that the players are taking a more active role in the future of women’s professional hockey.”
The PWHPA has members from Canada, the United States and Europe.