The Latest: Bauer Hockey backs women's boycott, looks to NHL
By The Associated Press
The Latest on women's hockey players announcing boycott in demand for one league (all times Eastern):
Bauer Hockey is supporting the world's top female hockey players as they boycott professional hockey in North America next season in their push to establish one league.
Mary-Kay Messier is president of global marketing for the hockey equipment giant and the sister of NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier. She says she believes the NHL must play a key role to develop a viable women's professional hockey program.
Messier says the NHL and its clubs have the ability to effectively promote the women's game with the resources beyond money. She says the NHL also can use the world's top female athletes as ambassadors and role models, which will both grow the game and build diversity in hockey.
Bauer has endorsement deals with Marie-Phillip Poulin and Hilary Knight, who are among the women who decided not to play.
Messier, who also is a board member of the nonprofit Play Like a Girl group, says the offseason provides the hockey community a chance to come together to support women's professional hockey.
The NHL will begin privately evaluating its stance on whether to back a women's professional hockey league.
The move comes after more than 200 players said they will not play in North America next season. Bill Daly, the league's deputy commissioner, says it is premature to weigh in at this point.
But he also added: "We will further explore the situation privately before taking any affirmative position on next steps."
Daly noted that the National Women's Hockey League remains in existence, and the NHL has no intention of interfering with its business plan or objectives.
Still, Daly's reference to a private evaluation marks a step forward for a league that has previously stated it had no intention of considering backing a competing professional women's league.
Daly did not provide a timetable for how long the evaluation might take. He adds he doesn't anticipate "at this early stage" to have women's pro hockey placed on the agenda for the league's next board of governors meetings next month.
U.S. star Kendall Coye Schofield tells The Associated Press that the National Women's Hockey League has repeatedly shown it is not a viable, long-term option for players.
Coyne Schofield and more than 200 other players have announced they would not play in any North American professional league next season in an effort to establish one league. It came a day after the Canadian Women's Hockey League officially ceased operations following its stunning March announcement that it was folding.
Coyne Schofield says the NWHL "does not showcase the best product of women's hockey." She says the business model, salaries, health insurance and the treatment of the players are all factors.
Players in a statement said salaries as low as $2,000 and a lack of health insurance make it difficult to train and play.
Unhappy with the status quo, more than 200 of the world's top female hockey players declared they will not compete in North America next season in a dramatic attempt to establish a single, economically viable professional league.
The players announced their decision in a joint statement released to The Associated Press before being posted on social media in a move that has the potential of drawing the NHL further into the conversation of backing women's hockey. The group includes stars such as Americans Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield and Canadian national team goalie Shannon Szabados.
The players pulled together in a united front in less than a month and said they wanted to express their dissatisfaction with the current state of the sport while demanding a say in establishing a league.
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