Players respond to women’s hockey league salary cut


Players in the National Women's Hockey League say they want more information before agreeing to a 50 per cent salary cut. (Michael P. Majewski/NWHL via AP)

Players in the National Women’s Hockey League will play at least one more game but want more information before agreeing to a 50 per cent salary cut the commissioner says is necessary “to save the season.”

Brant Feldman, an agent who represents numerous top NWHL players, said on Twitter Saturday that the Boston Pride will play at Buffalo on Sunday. Feldman called the decision to play a “sign of good of faith” and challenged the league to do the same in responding to player demands.

Feldman said the players have been placed in a difficult position because the NWHL “may cease operations” if the games aren’t played. The other game Sunday features the Connecticut Whale at the New York Riveters.

The four-team league is in its second season, and its future has been thrust into question a day after NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan announced the salary cuts. Rylan is the founder of the NWHL, whose business model is essentially a startup venture supported by investors and corporate sponsors.

Last year, the NWHL became North America’s first women’s hockey league to pay player salaries, which range from $10,000 to $26,000. The salary cuts represent as much as $540,000 in savings.

On Saturday, several players said on Twitter they were willing to work with the league but sought more information and transparency. The players asked for proof of insurance, a third-party audit, the names of league investors and an explanation for the revenue shortfall.

Without specifically mentioning players’ concerns, Rylan said in a statement she hoped to continue a “positive, constructive dialogue” with the players over the next two weeks.

“The players have many concerns and disappointments, and I understand that completely,” Rylan said. “I deeply appreciate that, despite the emotions of the last two days, they have continued with their preparation for tomorrow’s games.”

On Friday, Rylan blamed the cash crunch on the league falling short of projections, including declining attendance a month into the season.

Players will be required to sign an addendum to their contracts for the cuts to take effect. It’s unclear if the players will do that before their games Sunday, and whether the NWHL will allow the games to be played if the restructured contracts aren’t signed.

Riveters defenceman Ashley Johnston said players were surprised by the salary-cut announcement, and called the decision “gut-wrenching.”

Feldman wrote that the players have been put in an “impossible position” because they do not know the league’s “true financial health.” He added that the players want the league to succeed, but there must be a “true partnership.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.