U.S. women’s national team hockey stars Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight said they are not worried about the longevity of the National Women’s Hockey League despite recent cutbacks. Duggan and Knight told the Associated Press on Tuesday night that growing a new league is a process.
“It’s a startup. It’s the growing pains of it all,” Duggan told the AP. “I think if you look back … the NHL and how it all started, or any of the pro sports leagues around the country, it’s just growing pains. We’re doing everything we can to keep the product great on the ice.”
The NWHL, the first North American league to pay female hockey players, announced in November that it was cutting its salaries in half (before that the pay ranged from $10,000-$26,000). In addition, last week, the league announced that the season will be cut short to end right before the national team players leave for the world championships on March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan.
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“When I look at it from a growth of women’s hockey standpoint, it’s great that we had such strides,” Knight said in the interview. “It’s unfortunate that they did not go as far as we originally had planned and hoped for. So hopefully there’s something better that’s coming in the future.”
Both Duggan and Knight said the NWHL overall has made a positive impact in the world of women’s hockey.
“I can’t emphasize enough how exciting it is to be a female in women’s sports right now, but to be a female ice hockey player,” Knight said. “There’s some exciting things on the horizon.”