Details emerge on USA Hockey, women’s national team four-year agreement

The US Women’s National Team (USWNT) entered the negotiations with USA Hockey with demands that hit three broad categories: compensation, PR and marketing, and investment in the girls’ and women’s programs.

We’re thrilled to report they received what they were after in a monumental moment for women’s professional sports. The players end their boycott and will play in the Women’s World Championships starting March 31.

The initial press release said each party would keep the financial details private. Like usual, it was only a matter of time before someone had the scoop.

About 45 minutes after the statement, details of agreement between the players and USA Hockey came out. ESPN’s Johnette Howard of ESPN.com was the first to report on details which include:

• Compensation: Each National Team player will earn approximately $70,000 per year. Before the contract, they were earning about $6,000 from USA Hockey in the six months they were training for the Olympic games. They have the opportunity to advance that figure to upwards of six figures under the United State’s Olympic Committee’s (USOC) ‘Operation Gold’ program if they medal in events.

• Stipends: Each National Team player will receive $2,000 a month in a training stipend regardless of her experience level. The USOC pays between $750-$2,000 as a training stipend depending on the player’s experience level. USA Hockey will make up the difference between the amount USOC pays and the $2,000 guaranteed.

• Insurance: For the first time in the history of the program, the women’s team will receive the same insurance coverage as the men’s team.

• Travel/Meals: Also for the first time, the women’s team will have the same travel accommodations as the men, including business class airfare. Also, the per diem for non-travel days at events from $15-per-day to $50-per-day, which is the amount the men’s team receives.

• PR/Marketing: A committee will be established to ‘make recommendations on how the federation can improve its marketing, scheduling, public relations efforts and promotion of the women’s game.’

• Girls’ Program Development: The USA Hockey Foundation will add a position that will focus on improving ‘fundraising and other efforts for its girls’ developmental teams.’ The girls’ program currently receives next to nothing, but the boys’ developmental program has $3.5-million in funding. Much of this money comes from the NHL; however, the league doesn’t tell USA Hockey how or where to spend it.

• The agreement is in place for four years.

What appeared to be the tipping point for USA Hockey was the solidarity among players in and outside of the USA Hockey pipeline.

The unwillingness to players to come play in place of the boycotting National Team and the impending deadline of the March 31 start of the tournament forced USA Hockey to act. The added pressure of the game being on home soil in Michigan, the rumored threat of the men’s team boycotting Worlds, and a friendly reminder from 16 U.S. Senators of the legal and ethical obligations USA Hockey holds probably helped, too.

We’d like to believe it was a light clicking on in the heads of the higher ups at USA Hockey to do right by the players…but Craig Custance asked USA Hockey executive director Dave Ogrean about a possible tarnished reputation from negotiations. Ogrean replied, “I sure hope not. I hope [USA Hockey gets] a lot of credit for resolving this.”

Sigh.

That is work for another day.

For now let’s celebrate this incredible moment for women’s sports. The players put their career on the line for the greater good and were rewarded for it.

 

The team will convene in Michigan, and have one practice on Thursday before taking on arch rivals Team Canada in the Women’s World Championship opener on Friday.

After the announcement of a deal, Hockey Canada’s general manager issued a statement:

 

No doubt the first game, and probably the entire tournament, will be even more emotionally charged for Team USA. That should turn an already bloodthirsty rivalry game with Canada into something epic.

Fans can watch Friday’s game at 7:30 p.m. EST on NHL Network. Online streaming has not been announced.