Women’s Hockey Notebook: All about the money

Picking up where we started with the notebook last season, we look at the number one topic surrounding women’s professional hockey this season – money.


This weekend’s games:

Buffalo Beauts (2-4-1) at New York Riveters (2-3-1) – 4:30pm ET
Connecticut Whale (2-3-0) at Boston Pride (6-0-0) – 7:30pm ET

Boston Pride at New York Riveters – 4:00pm ET

1A. Salary cut fallout

Needless to day, it’s been a complicated two weeks for the NWHL after announcing salary cuts for players.

Morgan Fritz-Ward became the first player to announce that she will be leaving the league following the announcement of the salary cuts. She’ll play her final two games with the New York Riveters this weekend.


The Ice Garden spoke with Fritz-Ward about the decision to go back to Iowa and attend school ahead of the timeline she’d originally set for herself. She also gives further insight into what the players have heard along the way.

Before the news of the salary cuts broke, Fritz-Ward knew a decision regarding her playing career was approaching. The Iowa native re-signed with New York in April and spent the summer taking anatomy classes back home. The plan was always to keep hockey first, for at least one more season. She applied to nursing school with an anticipated August 2017 start, making a third year with the NWHL dependent on her earnings […]

Living in the New York-Metro area is a major expense; even with two additional jobs, Fritz-Ward was already having difficulty managing. Therefore, the devastating news of pay cuts last month acted as an accelerant to her original school plans. […]

Despite meeting with the league last week, Fritz-Ward still felt more information was needed to commit: “For me, it’s just a different situation, because I don’t have the time to wait a couple of months for the fundraising or whatever to get where it needs to be for me to get what I was making. I made the decision to, I guess, call it quits earlier than I would have liked to based on that.”

After a team meeting with NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan last week, Fritz-Ward personally felt there were still some guarantees nobody could make: “There was [a dialogue], it’s just hard for even Dani to give an answer because we’re all in the same situation, we just don’t know,” she said.

Fritz-Ward also doesn’t rule out coming back should situations surrounding the league change.
Upon her return to Iowa, Fritz-Ward will play on men’s teams or in other recreational leagues to stay active. Once school is complete, she will still be well within her playing years. So, a return to professional hockey is not out of the question: “If the league continues and it grows,” reflected Fritz-Ward, “who knows? I could be back.”
More on Fritz-Ward retirement from: Kate Cimini of FanRag Sports and Mike Murphy of Blueshirt Banter.
1B. Contract addendum
As stated by Commissioner Rylan in the conference call with reporters, players have been given an addendum to their contracts acknowledging the change in salary.
Puck Daddy asked the league if it was correct to assume that players who took to the ice this weekend and last had signed the addendum. We have not received a response.

1C. NWHL sponsor

There have been a lot of questions as far as who is officially sponsoring the NWHL. A source with knowledge of league operations tells Puck Daddy the only official sponsor is Dunkin’ Donuts.

The league has partnerships with other organizations, but it’s Dunkin’ who provides extra money.


This weekend’s games:

Toronto Furies (5-3-2) at Brampton Thunder (3-5-2) – 6:30pm ET
Les Canadiennes de Montreal (7-2-1) at Boston Blades (0-7-1) – 7:30pm ET

Toronto Furies at Brampton Thunder – 1:30pm ET
Les Canadiennes de Montreal at Boston Blades – 3:30pm ET

2A. Future plans for league to pay players

For the past year, many women’s hockey outlets have reported the CWHL plans to pay players starting with the 2017-18 season; however, the league has yet to officially confirm it.

Given what’s going on with the NWHL and the competition the CWHL could bring if they do start paying players, we reached out to the CWHL for comment on what has been reported.

From the CWHL’s Director of Communications and Marketing Sasky Stewart:

“The CWHL is on target with the implementation of our strategic plan that is aligned with our mission for creating careers for women on and off the ice.”

Give Sasky credit, that’s a good vague statement.

Read into it what you want; however, it’s smart of the CWHL to stay vague on their future plans. If they’ve learned anything from the NWHL it’s not to over-promise and under-deliver.

3. Links around the rinks…

• NWHL: Business … as usual? [Victory Press]

• For CWHL and NWHL, having competition makes them stronger. [FanRag Sports]

• Two part series diving into questions surrounding the NWHL. [The Committed Indian]

• NWHL’s pay cuts leave questions, could cost league players. [SI.com]

• NWHL grants players proof of insurance after salary cut news, but uncertainties remain. [SB Nation]

• Does keeping financial information under wraps put NWHL on thin ice? [espnW]

4. Stick-tap

This is a couple weeks old now, but massive stick-tap to Angelica of The Ice Garden and Victory Press for picking up (coincidental?) warmup music at Beauts home game following salary cut announcement. (Lyrics NSWF.)