Members of the USA Hockey men’s national team will refuse to participate in the 2017 World Championships in support of the current boycott by the women’s team, according to a tweet from NHL agent Allan Walsh.
The women’s national team is currently trying to negotiate better terms with USA Hockey regarding support at all levels. The men’s programs have historically received far more resources from equipment to compensation to marketing, and the women’s players are pushing to change that.
USA Hockey is already looking increasingly bad in the current situation given the paltry support it’s offered in the past despite strong showings from the American women in major events like the Worlds and the Olympics.
The organization’s response to the boycott has been to try to unearth replacement players from various levels of women’s hockey (apparently including the U16 team), but there’s been unity among the players in their stance. Having so few alternatives to field a proper team only reinforces how little support there’s been leading up to now.
Now it appears that solidarity may extend to the best American men’s players in the world, which will only add further fuel to the fire held to USA Hockey’s feet. If elite players from Team USA refuse to play in the 2017 Worlds, which are set for May 5-21 in France and Germany, it’ll only add public attention to an issue that USA Hockey would surely just like to go away.
There are myriad reasons why the women are ultimately in the right here, though, and it seems like public opinion is almost entirely behind them. They deserve more resources to expand the program and their reach across the country, and USA Hockey should be able to recognize the investment opportunities that could arise from having the women’s team be more than just a small part of the organization.
How can one argue so certainly that investing in the women’s national program would be a bad idea when nobody has done it before? And when you see what Hilary Knight, Meghan Duggan, and company have accomplished in spite of USA Hockey’s support, rather than because of it, there’s some potential for growth here.
It seems like almost everyone can see that but the people behind USA Hockey, and based on their responses over the past few weeks, they’re not doing a great job of convincing anyone to the contrary. The men’s team joining in the boycott would only further damage a reputation that hasn’t been helped by debacles like this situation and the poor showing at the World Cup of Hockey last year.
USA Hockey needs Auston Matthews, but it also needs Knight, too. Maybe if it’s posed with the possibility of having neither, that’ll break the stalemate in negotiations that have lasted over a year. The hockey world seems pretty clear in how it wants this to end at this point.