For the second time in a week, negotiations between the United States women’s national team and its governing body – USA Hockey – have stalled when a deal was seemingly within reach.
The U.S. women’s national team was close to ratifying an offer from USA Hockey on Tuesday morning that would have ended 15 months of negotiation and their boycott of this week’s IIHF Women’s World Championship before hitting a snag.
The 23 members of the women’s national team began procedures to vote on the latest offer just before noon ET on Tuesday, according to sources, but their legal representation called the team’s attention to contractual language that players deemed “unacceptable.”
It remains unclear what the exact sticking point may be. Neither USA Hockey nor members of the women’s national team have commented publicly on the negotiations. The two sides remain in communication.
While it appears an agreement will likely be reached, the clock is ticking.
The United States is set to host Team Canada on Friday night in Plymouth, Mich., to kick off the tournament. The Americans have topped Canada in seven of the last nine world championship gold-medal games.
This also is not the first time these talks have hit a roadblock.
The two parties came to a handshake agreement last week in Philadelphia, only to see USA Hockey’s executive committee shoot down that agreement in a vote, putting the American entry in the tournament in question again.
USA Hockey’s 91-member board convened a three-hour teleconference call on Monday to further discuss the situation, but came to no resolution. The two sides remained in contact into Tuesday, leading to the latest offer, before that too imploded.
It is believed USA Hockey’s latest offer began with the agreement hashed out last week, then worked backward from there in an attempt to find middle ground.
Aside from increased compensation, the women’s national team is seeking more equality to the men’s program with regard to travel, accommodations, staffing, equipment, insurance, injuries and roster protection should they decide to take a leave from hockey to begin a family.
The women’s national team announced their boycott of the world championship on March 15 after negotiations stalled. The solidarity they showed in their vow to skip the tournament was met with support from all over the sports world, including messages from the NHL Players’ Association, plus NBA, MLB, NFL players, as well as a letter from 16 United States senators on Monday.
The United States’ Under-18 women’s national team also stood in solidarity.
With the tournament fast approaching, USA Hockey scrambled to assemble a team of potential replacement players – and reportedly did not have much success in doing so. Former NCAA Div. III, college club hockey players, recreation league players and even women as young as the U16 ranks announced on social media their rebuff of USA Hockey’s offer.