Se­na­tors urge USA Hockey to end dis­pute

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Steve Whyno

Pres­sure is mount­ing on USA Hockey in its wage dis­pute with the women’s na­tional team.

On Mon­day, 16 U.S. se­na­tors wrote a let­ter to ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dave Ogrean, urg­ing him to re­solve the mat­ter. The mes­sage came four days be­fore the start of the women’s world cham­pi­onship, which play­ers threat­ened to boy­cott if sig­nif­i­cant progress was not made to­ward an agree­ment.

The U.S. is the de­fend­ing cham­pion.

USA Hockey’s board of di­rec­tors held a meet­ing Mon­day af­ter­noon,but had not emerged with a res­o­lu­tion as of late Mon­day night. Play­ers said Sun­day in a state­ment that they were hope­ful USA Hockey would agree to what was ham­mered out af­ter 10-plus hours of in-per­son talks a week ago.

The se­na­tors, all Democrats, cited the Ted Stevens Olympic and Am­a­teur Sports Act and told Ogrean he should en­sure the team re­ceives “eq­ui­table re­sources.”

They joined a cho­rus of sup­port that in­cludes unions rep­re­sent­ing play­ers from the NHL, NBA, NFL and Ma­jor League Base­ball. Those or­ga­ni­za­tions said over the week­end they stood with the women’s team and crit­i­cized USA Hockey for at­tempt­ing to find re­place­ment play­ers.

Promi­nent NHL agent Al­lan Walsh tweeted Sun­day, “Word cir­cu­lat­ing among NHL play­ers that Amer­i­can play­ers will refuse to play in men’s World Cham­pi­onships in sol­i­dar­ity with the women.”

In ne­go­ti­a­tions over the past 15 months, play­ers have asked for a four-year con­tract that pays them out­side the six­month Olympic pe­riod. The se­na­tors’ let­ter notes the $6,000 that play­ers earn around the Olympics and USA Hockey’s $3.5 mil­lion an­nual spend­ing on the men’s na­tional team de­vel­op­ment pro­gram and other dis­crep­an­cies.

“These elite ath­letes in­deed de­serve fair­ness and re­spect, and we hope you will be a leader on this is­sue as women con­tinue to push for equal­ity in athletics,” the se­na­tors wrote.

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