As with most sports on an international level, the calls for equal pay, opportunities and resources between men and women’s sports are also present in the National Hockey League. Their plea resulted in 200 women’s hockey players standing together in May with the threat that they won’t play in any professional league again in North America unless they receive the funding and resources required by professional hockey.
Some great names in the sport back the movement to gain equality. They are Hilary Knight and Shannon Szabados, both Olympians. These women are placing their careers on the line and are fully aware that by joining the movement, they stand the chance of never playing professionally again. One of these women willing to risk it all is Katie McGovern, playing for Scottsdale.
McGovern is a graduate from Duluth, Minnesota. She was signed for the 2018-19 season with the Minnesota Whitecaps, and during this season she played 16 games. In her position as second-line centre, she managed six goals and achieved 11 points. This was the first year that the Minnesota Whitecaps were playing in the National Women’s Hockey League and they were able to lift the Isobel Cup. The joyous moment was short-lived since not long after winning, the movement was started to improve the league for younger generations of women to come. Their plan of action is to stay out of play for the coming season. The risk for the players is rooted in the fact that NHL contracts are awarded on a per-year basis. Hence many players had to decide whether they will join the movement or return to play.
The National Women’s Hockey League
During 2015-16 the league debuted. The first expansion which followed was when the Whitecaps were included, only in 2018. Further extensions were due to include Montreal and Toronto as well, but since the movement started, these plans are cancelled. When the league became aware of the movement’s announcements, it offered the ladies many allowances which included larger salaries. The players denied their offer and stated that the concerns which they have with the league are rooted deeper than only wages. According to McGovern, the female players also have an interest that the league doesn’t treat them like professional players. As professional players, one would expect that they would receive the necessary resources during the tournament. They had no pregame meals, skate laces or tape. The teams also had to take later flights to save on cost. They had no bus to transport the group and hence had to spend hours on airports and to wait for shuttles. Due to sponsorship, the Whitecaps had a trainer, but the other NWHL teams couldn’t afford a trainer either.
These are the concerns which the movement wants to rectify. They want to create a better future for younger females dedicated to promoting women’s hockey and whether they will be able to find an agreement with the league before it is too late, will still have to be revealed.