Day 6

The U.S. Women's Hockey Team is boycotting the championship over fair pay

This week, the players on the reigning champion U.S. National Women's Hockey Team announced they will boycott the upcoming Women's World Championship unless USA Hockey agrees to pay them what they feel is a living wage.
(Martin Rose/Getty Images)

They are the defending world champions. The United States is the host country for the 2017 IIHF Women's World Championship. But the U.S. National Women's Hockey Team says it is willing to boycott the tournament this year.

After a year of negotiations, the United States Women's Hockey Team and USA Hockey have yet to reach an agreement regarding the players' contracts.

Until that happens, the team members say they won't play.

Defence player Monique Lamoureux-Morando, who has been part of the team since 2009, says the women hired a law firm early last year with the intention of negotiating a new contract, which would include increased wages and support.

The team is currently contracted for the six months leading up to the Olympics, and Lamoureux-Morando says they were looking to have this extended to cover a four-year period. Within this window, she says the players are still "expected to train and be elite athletes."

Monique Lamoureux-Morando, 7, skates for the puck during a game against Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Lamoureux-Morando, 27, explains that USA Hockey provides each player with $1,000 per month in the six months leading up to the Olympics. "That's $6,000 total from USA Hockey in a four-year span," she says.

The team also receives funding from the United States Olympic Committee. The players are paid up to $2,000 a month with the minimum being $750.

It's hard to make ends meet, and that's if you're getting top-tier.- Monique Lamoureux-Morando

On Wednesday, the players announced that they would boycott the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship if they couldn't reach an agreement with USA Hockey.

USA Hockey responded with a post on their website, citing the continued support that it provides to the U.S. women's team.

"USA Hockey has a long-standing commitment to the support, advancement and growth of girls and women's hockey and any claims to the contrary are unfounded," the statement reads.

USA Hockey released a deadline — Thursday at 5 p.m. ET — for the women to make a final decision about playing.

"We were aware of USA Hockey's deadline and have allowed it to pass," a statement from the players read. "We are focused on the issue of equitable support and stand by our position."

Marie-Philip Poulin, 29, of Canada celebrates scoring a goal against Jessie Vetter, 31, of the U.S. during the Women's Gold Medal Game at the 2014 Winter Olympics. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Despite the commitment to their cause, Lamoureux-Morando says the players remain cautiously optimistic about a settlement.

"We're hoping we can come to a compromise."

The dispute is unraveling less than a week before training camp is slated to begin. If things stay the way they are now, the current national team players won't be in attendance.

USA Hockey claims to be making preparations for this, saying it "will field a competitive team" if the current group maintains the boycott.

"It's a very sad day when your governing body says that they will field a team rather than negotiate and compromise with its national team players that have devoted their entire careers and lives to being on that team," the two-time Olympic silver-medalist says.

Team USA poses for a picture after defeating Canada 1-0 in overtime to win the 2016 gold medal at the IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championships. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

As the reigning champs of this tournament, giving up the chance at another win was not easy for the U.S. Women's Hockey Team.

"It is the hardest decision we've had to make as athletes." - Monique Lamoureux-Morando, player with the U.S. Women's Hockey Team

"We believe we are doing the right thing and standing up for what is right," she explains.

The week-long championship, one of the biggest events in women's hockey, begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. 

Monique Lamoureux-Morando, 7, and twin sister Jocelyne Lamoureux, 17, were the first set of twins ever to play women's ice hockey in the Olympics. They won silver in 2014. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

To hear Brent Bambury's conversation with Monique Lamoureux-Morando, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.