BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — More than 200 of the top female hockey players in the world have decided they will not play professionally in North America next season, hoping their stand leads to a single economically sustainable league.
The announcement Thursday comes after the Canadian Women’s Hockey League abruptly shut down as of Wednesday, leaving the five-team, U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League as the only pro league in North America. But players say the NWHL’s salaries and business model don’t make it a viable option.
The group of players, led by American stars Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield and Canadian goaltender Shannon Szabados, hopes their move eventually pushes the NHL to start its own women’s hockey league as the NBA did with the WNBA.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league would not choose sides or get involved unless there was a void to fill.
In a statement, players say they “cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game” with no health insurance and salaries as low as $2,000 a season.