Women hockey play­ers want info on slashed salaries

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Play­ers in the Na­tional Women’s Hockey League will play at least one more game but want more in­for­ma­tion be­fore agree­ing to a 50 per­cent 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 to­day. 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 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, and whether the NWHL will al­low the games to be played if the restruc­tured con­tracts aren’t signed.

Rivet­ers de­fense­man 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.”

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