USA Hockey Is Trying to Ice a Team of Scabs for the Women's World Championship
The U.S. women's hockey team is boycotting the World Championship and now USA Hockey is trying to get scabs to play.
Thursday evening, after four days of negotiations in Philadelphia between the U.S. women's national ice hockey team players and their sport's national governing body, USA Today confirmed that USA Hockey has reneged on earlier negotiated points and will search for replacement players—scabs—for the upcoming IIHF Women's World Championships.
USA Hockey told USA Today that "it will begin reaching out to alternate players to determine their availability." The organization is looking to pull players from the National Women's Hockey League, including the Minnesota Whitecaps, as well as college teams.
The national team forced USA Hockey to the bargaining table this week with its boycott of Women's Worlds after contract negotiations stalled between the parties sixteen months previous, with USWNT players citing poor wages and inequitable player treatment.
Not only did players note that their per diem amount, accommodations, and insurance reimbursements were inferior to those enjoyed by the men's team but the men's team also enjoyed $3.5 million dedicated to its development programs; $0 was dedicated to the women's.
USA Hockey already tried to ice a team of replacements when the women first boycotted, but players in the pipeline all the way down to the U-18 team held firm and refused.
Negotiations appeared to be proceeding well this week, but the cancellation of a friendly match against Finland and the reorganization of the team's training schedule seems to have been the impetus for USA Hockey's decision to scout once again for scabs.
Anya Battaglino, the head of the NWHL Players' Association and a player on the Connecticut Whale, spoke with VICE Sports in support of the USWNT players.
"The idea of standing up for what you believe is right, taking a stand and doing something uncomfortable, it's very noble and it's something like that that propels the sport forward," said Battaglino. "If no one's willing to put themselves on the line, if there's no Pat Summit, if there's no Venus and Serena Williams advocating for the betterment of the sport, it's not going to get better.
"I think that it's a huge statement when someone like Shiann Darkangelo, that just got cut from the team [that would attend Worlds], stands with the players who made it," she continued.
While USA Hockey has reached out to NWHL players, Battaglino stated that she did not think fans would see any NWHL players take the ice in lieu of a USWNT player.
"Every single day our players act as pioneers for the betterment of the sport," said Battaglino said. "They play on percentage points of what the men make, to just have the opportunity to do what they do. Taking a position as a scab would be a huge step backwards.
"I think you won't see [NWHL players agreeing to be scabs], but I think if you do, there's a really rough conversation that needs to happen after that," Battaglino said. "How do they fit into the framework of the NWHLPA, and how do they fit into the growth and development of the league if they're not willing to stand behind player advocacy for the betterment of our sport?"
Battaglino added that if a player did cross over, she might find herself frozen out in the locker room, whether they are NCAA, NWHL, CWHL, or Whitecaps players.
"I think it is going to appear like you stand against [us]," said Battaglino. "If you don't stand with us, you stand against us."