USA hockey has announced today that they will begin reaching out to replacement players for the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championships in the event that a resolution between USA Hockey and members of the USWNT cannot be reached and the player boycott of the event continues.
USA Hockey is reaching out to NWHL, colleges for replacement players for IIHF the Women’s World Championship, @USATODAYsports has confirmed.— A.J. Perez (@byajperez) March 23, 2017
Source close to the situation indicates that USAH started looking for "scabs" today. NWHL, Whitecaps, college players contacted. #USWNT— Hannah Bevis (@Hannah_Bevis1) March 23, 2017
NWHL, Whitecaps, and college players were contacted by USAH on Thursday.
The USA U18 team has already vowed to boycott the World Championships, as well as the NWHL. While the Whitecaps have indicated their support, there hasn’t been an official statement from them nor from any college players about whether they would join the national team as replacements if asked.
Its seems almost certain that if USA hockey is to acquire a team, it will most likely be made of those from outside the US hockey pipeline, with collegiate players being the most obvious targets.
However, to cross the proverbial picket line will leave these players not only with the label of ‘scabs’ but also with the responsibility of defending their decision- not only the media and the fans, but also to the members of the existing USWNT, all while trying to defend a World Championship title that isn’t really theirs.
Jen Neale obtained a statement from USA Hockey that said that the main objective is still to have to players originally named in the U.S. Women’s National Team compete at the world championships. Time is running out and while the USWNT members reported that discussions were productive, the question remains of if they will manage to reach an agreement in time for the players to get to Worlds before it starts on March 31.
After discussing the matter with their lawyers, the USA players issued the following statement in response to USA Hockey:
It seems that there will be a team on the ice to defend the USA’s World Championship title come March 31. Whether that is the original USWNT or a backup team is yet to be seen. Regardless, time is running out for USAH and decisions are going to need to be made soon.