Hilary Knight

Female hockey stars boycott professional leagues

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The world’s best female hockey players are boycotting playing professionally this upcoming season “until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves,” they announced on social media Thursday.

“We come together, over 200 players strong, to say it is time to create a sustainable professional league for women’s hockey,” read a statement posted by dozens of Olympic medalists. “We cannot make a sustainable living playing in the current state of the professional game.”

Players have no health insurance and make as little as $2,000 per season, they said.

“We’re not playing anywhere professionally in North America. We just want to build something better,” U.S. forward Hilary Knight said, according to The Associated Press. “Now, what that looks like could be a handful of different things. But our main purpose and goal is to promote the growth of the game and increase the visibility. But ultimately, we need the sustainability factor to make us all feel better about what we’re doing on a daily basis.”

All but three players from the U.S. Olympic champion team immediately posted the statement. The three who didn’t were its youngest players — goalie Maddie Rooney and defenders Megan Keller and Cayla Barnes — who were still collegians last season. Keller later posted it, and Rooney reposted a teammate’s post.

In the lead-up to the 2017 World Championship, the U.S. national team announced they planned to boycott the tournament if a wage dispute with USA Hockey was not resolved in time. Three days before the puck dropped, USA Hockey and the players reached an agreement that allowed for travel and insurance provisions in line with what the men’s team received.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League, one of two leagues in North America, announced last month that it would fold effective Wednesday. The other is the National Women’s Hockey League with seven teams.

The NWHL, however, said it planned to push forward with its fifth season this October and would offer salary increases and a “50-50 revenue split from league-level sponsorships and media rights deals.”

The NWHL statement did not mention its earlier plans to expand into Toronto and Montreal next season.

The players’ decision places an emphasis on the NHL to play a larger role in women’s hockey. The NHL has provided financial support to women’s hockey, but has resisted further involvement including the possibility of sponsoring its own league.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly noted the NWHL remains in existence, and the NHL has no intention of interfering with its business plan or objectives. Daly added he doesn’t anticipate “at this early stage” having women’s pro hockey placed on the agenda for the league’s board of governors meetings next month.

“We will further explore the situation privately before taking any affirmative position on next steps,” Daly said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Hilary Knight joins new club team

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Fresh off beating Canada at the Olympics, Hilary Knight is now moving to Canada to continue her club career.

Knight, a three-time Olympian and stalwart U.S. forward for the last decade, joined the Montreal Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and is expected to play her first game Sunday.

Knight played all of her previous club games in Boston. She was drafted by the CWHL’s Boston Blades out of college in 2012, then joined the Boston Pride when the U.S. domestic league, the NWHL, launched in 2015.

Knight didn’t play club hockey this past fall. Nobody on the U.S. national team did as they prepared for the Olympics.

But before Olympic prep, none of the 23 players who eventually made the PyeongChang team were playing in the CWHL.

All were either aligned with U.S. college programs, NWHL teams, the independent Minnesota Whitecaps or, in the case of defender Sidney Morin, playing in Sweden.

Two players cut from the U.S. national team before the Olympics — Megan Bozek and Alex Carpenter — joined CWHL teams in January.

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MORE: Top hockey moments from PyeongChang Olympics

Hilary Knight appears on ‘Saturday Night Live’ (video)

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Wearing her Olympic gold medal, Hilary Knight joined Team USA super fan and comedian Leslie Jones on “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update.

Knight became one of few Winter Olympic champions to appear on SNL. The only Winter Olympic gold medalist to host the show was Jonny Moseley in 2002.

A Summer Olympic gold medalist hosted Saturday’s show — Dream Team member Charles Barkley for the fourth time.

Knight and the U.S. women’s hockey team have been on a nationwide media tour with stops in Los Angeles (appeared on “Ellen”), the Tampa Bay area (where they trained leading up to PyeongChang), New York and Washington, D.C., appearing at an NHL Stadium Series game in Annapolis, Md., on Saturday.

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MORE: Top hockey moments from PyeongChang Olympics