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Women's Professional Hockey: Crossroads

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Full Statement from players:

“We are fortunate to be ambassadors of this game that we revere so deeply and yet, more than ever, we understand the responsibility that comes with that ambassadorship: To leave this game in better shape than when we entered it. That is why we have come together, over 200 players strong, to say it is time to create a sustainable professional league for Women’s Hockey.

“While we have all accomplished so much, there is no greater accomplishment than what we have the potential to do right here and right now – not just for this generation of players, but for generations to come. With that purpose we are coming together, not as individual players, but as one collective voice to help navigate the future and protect the players needs. We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game. Having no health insurance and making as low as two thousand dollars a season means players can’t adequately train and prepare to play at the highest level.

“Because of that, together as players, we will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources professional hockey demands and deserves.

“We may have represented different teams, leagues, and countries – but this sport is one family. And the time is now for this family to unite. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for – our moment to come together and say we deserve more. It’s time for a long-term viable professional league that will showcase the greatest product of women’s professional hockey in the world.”

The short version is that 200 professional women hockey players say they will sit out the next season rather than continue on as is. This includes players from the Buffalo Beauts and well known players like Hillary Knight. 

 

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Are they boycotting because they're not making enough money? If there is a pool of revenue that goes to the players, and that pool is just really small, I'm confused as to what there is to boycott; people simply aren't watching/going

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@WildCard -- I think you are right.  I have a hard time believing that the owners are raking in cash -- or making any money at all for that matter -- from this league.

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1 minute ago, WildCard said:

Are they boycotting because they're not making enough money? If there is a pool of revenue that goes to the players, and that pool is just really small, I'm confused as to what there is to boycott; people simply aren't watching/going

When you choose not to work with a specific company, is that really a boycott?  I suppose it's more of an attempted strike,

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1 minute ago, shrader said:

When you choose not to work with a specific company, is that really a boycott?  I suppose it's more of an attempted strike,

Either way, what's the goal here?

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2 minutes ago, nfreeman said:

@WildCard -- I think you are right.  I have a hard time believing that the owners are raking in cash -- or making any money at all for that matter -- from this league.

And it's not like there are many other models to follow.  Is there anything beyond the WNBA?  I can't imagine anyone around here has the slightest clue of how they have things setup (but I do see that they have a CBA).

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The NWHL has all but one team owned by it's league. This strikes me as women trying to force the NHL to prop up their league akin to the WNBA.

Biggest problem I see immediately is that the NHL has its own labor dispute around the corner thus the women will likely be more of an after thought.

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2 minutes ago, thewookie1 said:

The NWHL has all but one team owned by it's league. This strikes me as women trying to force the NHL to prop up their league akin to the WNBA.

Biggest problem I see immediately is that the NHL has its own labor dispute around the corner thus the women will likely be more of an after thought.

And how do you get 31 owners to sign off on that one.  Why would most of the owners in cities without a team care one bit about this?

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Supposedly they want to make a living and have insurance like the men.

So effectively let's say they each want a minimum of $20,000 with additional insurance.

 

Each roster would likely hold 23 players + maybe a couple extras due to a lack of any minor league.

$20,000 * 25 = $500,000

Add to that, let's say $100,000 in insurance and equipment

So we are already at $600,000 per team and we haven't even touched stadium costs, transportation costs, etc.

Let's sum it up at 1 mil per team to keep it simple; can the NWHL make 1 mil per team + profit at its current format? Not really.

They play one/two games a week and only 16 games per season plus a potential two for the playoffs. They would need 2000 tickets sold per game at $10 each to hit $20,000, 4,000 to justify the salaries for both teams. Additionally you would need to add at least 9 more games to the regular season so that the potential to break even with salaries alone is possible. Any amount of ticket price hikes would only hurt the attendance further so their max ticket price probably sits around $15.

 

Most NHL teams struggle financially as it is; how do they hope the NHL will convince owners to almost certainly toss another million per year into a furnace? Not to mention, how do you have the NHL universally support the NWHL if the number of actual NWHL teams wouldn't even surpass 1/3 of the NHL's teams? Why should the Sabres, Bruins, and Leafs owners need to support the NWHL if the Stars, Panthers, and Coyotes don't? There's just so many questions that would need an answer.

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It should be easy enough to look at both games and the percentages of how things break out and see if anything is out of line and fix that.

But, if the percentages are in line or they are brought in line and the revenue is still not there then it's not a problem that boycotting would help.  It's simply a need to market the game and grow it in its popularity so that more people want to see it more of the time.

If the percentages are messed up then you can say it's not being equal for women and I think it's right to fix it. 

Otherwise, you have to play and pave the way for the next generation to benefit.  The path of sports is such that the early trailblazers usually don't make the money that others in the future would make (even relatively speaking).  It's the pain of being first.

I'll be curious to follow this situation.

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1 hour ago, LTS said:

It should be easy enough to look at both games and the percentages of how things break out and see if anything is out of line and fix that.

But, if the percentages are in line or they are brought in line and the revenue is still not there then it's not a problem that boycotting would help.  It's simply a need to market the game and grow it in its popularity so that more people want to see it more of the time.

If the percentages are messed up then you can say it's not being equal for women and I think it's right to fix it. 

Otherwise, you have to play and pave the way for the next generation to benefit.  The path of sports is such that the early trailblazers usually don't make the money that others in the future would make (even relatively speaking).  It's the pain of being first.

I'll be curious to follow this situation.

Well, I don't think the percentages necessarily should match.  I could certainly believe that that the minimum costs to operate an arena for games, run a sports organization, etc. could well exceed 50% of projected revenues.  (This shouldn't be difficult to calculate, since both the costs and the revenues are more or less known quantities.)  Someone running this league could certainly look at the numbers and decide that based on costs and revenues, the owners will need 80% or more of revenues in order to break even.

For that matter, it's quite possible that even 100% of revenues wouldn't cover expenses.

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Well that sucks. I really enjoy going to the Beauts games. It’s very entertaining and well worth the $$.

Tickets are $20. Concessions are more reasonable than KeyBank Arena. Shirts, Jerseys, hats etc... are more reasonable too.

i think they would get the same turnout even if the tickets went up to $25-$30.

I think it’s a little too early at this stage to do what they are doing. I can see if most of the teams were near sellout capacity for all games, and the team gear was flying off the shelves most games. But that’s not the case at all. Weird timing. And in my opinion, wrong timing. 

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They're giving up too early.  If their goal is to utterly destroy women's professional hockey, they're on track.

Some sports simply don't pay well enough for the athlete to learn a living wage.  Frankly, I'd bet it's the majority of sports, and I'm certain that it's so for the vast majority of athletes.  Wasn't there some noise just a month or two ago about how A and AA ballplayers have to *gasp* work in the offseason?  Do these players realize, when they go see a local band or something, that those musicians also have other jobs?  That they can't spend all their time working on their music and practicing their craft?  That their gigs don't give them health insurance, either?

I'd love for Hillary Knight to earn hundreds of thousands per year playing hockey, but it isn't going to happen, and shutting the door on the NWHL isn't going to increase her chances of doing what she loves even with another job.

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35 minutes ago, Eleven said:

They're giving up too early.  If their goal is to utterly destroy women's professional hockey, they're on track.

Some sports simply don't pay well enough for the athlete to learn a living wage.  Frankly, I'd bet it's the majority of sports, and I'm certain that it's so for the vast majority of athletes.  Wasn't there some noise just a month or two ago about how A and AA ballplayers have to *gasp* work in the offseason?  Do these players realize, when they go see a local band or something, that those musicians also have other jobs?  That they can't spend all their time working on their music and practicing their craft?  That their gigs don't give them health insurance, either?

I'd love for Hillary Knight to earn hundreds of thousands per year playing hockey, but it isn't going to happen, and shutting the door on the NWHL isn't going to increase her chances of doing what she loves even with another job.

Step 1: Get the NHL take control of the league
Step 2: Demand a portion of NHL revenues as opposed to just NWHL revenues

It's a recipe for disaster.  The only thing this approach leads to is the NHL staying out of it completely.

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So your league hanging on by a thread and the stars "boycott" making a bad situation worse.  Now that is great leadership.  

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Not sure who is giving them advice or it may be its too big a commitment to not earn a certain basic salary and insurance especially as these women age.  I can see the conundrum on both sides.  Why is it worth all my time and effort if I can earn more elsewhere even though I love the sport and if I cannot make a basic salary and insurance benefit it probably isnt worth the effort for a lot of these women if they have other career opportunities.  

That being said if the NHL doesnt deem it financially sustainable even from a sponsor marketing standpoint at that level... it is tough to keep supporting the league... 

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7 hours ago, thewookie1 said:

The NWHL has all but one team owned by it's league. This strikes me as women trying to force the NHL to prop up their league akin to the WNBA.

Biggest problem I see immediately is that the NHL has its own labor dispute around the corner thus the women will likely be more of an after thought.

If the teams are making a lot of money...and after expenses the players are getting something as small as 25% of the profits, then I'm all for them saying what they said and doing this.

On the other hand....if they want higher salaries by way of the NHL throwing money at the league to support it...and some of that money going to their salaries despite not making a profit....I'm against it.

I'd be happy to see a middle ground. Have the players, and some of the representation (whatever form that may be) work with the league with some unique ways to have it become more profitable, and then have a metric in place where the players share in a large amount of that new/upcoming revenue. As others have said though..I'm not sure how to get the numbers to add up to anything substantial.

I'm sure most of us want to see women's hockey succeed....but its just that...it has to 'succeed', not just 'exist' and whatever cost.

Edited by mjd1001

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They just killed their entire league.  Dumb.  

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There are a lot of great players on this list..there won't be much left for the NWHL next season:

 

https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/5/2/18526991/a-list-of-players-involved-in-for-the-game

 

I get why they are doing it, but I don't think it will have the outcome they are hoping for.

 

NWHL and Director of the NWHLPA have issued statements: https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/5/2/18527183/nwhl-nwhlpa-release-statements-in-response-to-forthegame-movement-dani-rylan-anya-battaglino-fratkin

 

The league seems to be holding out hope this won't last and is holding out an olive branch..

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4 minutes ago, SabresBaltimore said:

There are a lot of great players on this list..there won't be much left for the NWHL next season:

 

https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/5/2/18526991/a-list-of-players-involved-in-for-the-game

 

I get why they are doing it, but I don't think it will have the outcome they are hoping for.

 

NWHL and Director of the NWHLPA have issued statements: https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/5/2/18527183/nwhl-nwhlpa-release-statements-in-response-to-forthegame-movement-dani-rylan-anya-battaglino-fratkin

 

The league seems to be holding out hope this won't last and is holding out an olive branch..

 In 2015, there wasn’t a professional women’s hockey league in the United States. Prior to our launch just four years ago, there was never a movement for others to take over women’s hockey, or for any wide-scale league in North America.

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2 hours ago, North Buffalo said:

Not sure who is giving them advice or it may be its too big a commitment to not earn a certain basic salary and insurance especially as these women age.  I can see the conundrum on both sides.  Why is it worth all my time and effort if I can earn more elsewhere even though I love the sport and if I cannot make a basic salary and insurance benefit it probably isnt worth the effort for a lot of these women if they have other career opportunities.  

That being said if the NHL doesnt deem it financially sustainable even from a sponsor marketing standpoint at that level... it is tough to keep supporting the league... 

They have a 16 game season. I don’t mean to put down the amount of work they put into a season, but I have a hard time picturing 16 games as a huge time commitment. There’s zero that is anyone’s primary occupation. They want more and that’s fine, but they’re going to have to expect a significantly larger commitment in order to get that return. 

As you’re suggesting, they’re a long way away from hockey being their primary source of income. And if there are a few in the league where that is the case, well good luck to them. That’s an incredibly shaky financial situation right there. 

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Liz Knox, former head of the CWHLPA and one of the leaders of the Boycott gave an interview:

 

https://www.theicegarden.com/2019/5/2/18526916/liz-knox-on-the-for-the-game-movement-womens-hockey-boycott-cwhl-nwhl

 

Apparently this was Hillary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield idea. 

 

And Billy Jean King told them it was a good idea. If anyone can speak to the idea of woman athletes bailing on an existing league and forging a way forward it's her. I'm not sure hockey has the same kind of popularity or money that tennis did back then. And they had a big sponsor in Virginia Slims in setting up the new league. Maybe someone will step up that sees those big names and thinks they can make a deal, but I'm not holding my breath.

Edited by SabresBaltimore

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9 hours ago, LGR4GM said:

The short version is that 200 professional women hockey players say they will sit out the next season rather than continue on as is. This includes players from the Buffalo Beauts and well known players like Hillary Knight. 

 

These women's leagues dont get that the reason they dont make more money or have "real leagues" is to be perfectly honest, nobody cares about women's sports. If they did, they would be drawing big crowds. They don't in high school, they don't in college, and they don't in the pros.

If I want to go watch sports I want to see the fastest, quickest, most athletic people on the planet doing things you didn't think were possible. Whether they like it or not, these athletes are men. If I watch basketball i want to see people dunking and swatting not watching perfect layups. Same with hockey, baseball, football, etc...

Perhaps women's soccer is the closest thing to actually watching good sports. This is not sexist in any way, it just merely points out there are significant speed, strength and agility differences between men and women that no matter how much women don't want them to exist, they do. If people want to watch sports its to watch the most athletic people in that sport and those are men.

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14 minutes ago, matter2003 said:

These women's leagues dont get that the reason they dont make more money or have "real leagues" is to be perfectly honest, nobody cares about women's sports. If they did, they would be drawing big crowds. They don't in high school, they don't in college, and they don't in the pros.

If I want to go watch sports I want to see the fastest, quickest, most athletic people on the planet doing things you didn't think were possible. Whether they like it or not, these athletes are men. If I watch basketball i want to see people dunking and swatting not watching perfect layups. Same with hockey, baseball, football, etc...

Perhaps women's soccer is the closest thing to actually watching good sports. This is not sexist in any way, it just merely points out there are significant speed, strength and agility differences between men and women that no matter how much women don't want them to exist, they do. If people want to watch sports its to watch the most athletic people in that sport and those are men.

So you watch no AHL hockey games? No college football? No AAA baseball? No college basketball? No frozen four? No march madness?

basically unless it’s men, and it’s the top pros.... you don’t watch?

Edited by Zamboni

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