The more she talked about it, the more resolute she became. Wednesday, as Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson explained why the U.S. women’s hockey team plans to boycott the upcoming world championships, she said it felt like something that should have been done a long time ago.
The 23-member team announced Wednesday it will not play in the world championships unless USA Hockey makes “meaningful progress’’ toward more equitable treatment of the women’s program. Lamoureux-Davidson said players have tried for more than 14 months to negotiate with USA Hockey officials for increased financial support. With little progress made, the team decided to sit out the world championships, which begin March 31 in Plymouth, Mich.
The U.S. is the defending world champion. Players are scheduled to report to training camp Tuesday, but Lamoureux-Davidson — a two-time Olympic silver medalist who played one season for the Gophers — said they are prepared to stay home to force change in an organization they say pays them “virtually nothing’’ outside of the six-month Olympic training period.
“It’s disappointing, because this is what we train for, to play in this tournament,’’ Lamoureux-Davidson said. “But this fight transcends one tournament and one team.
“We feel like it’s our obligation to make this sacrifice and to fight for what is fair and what is right. We’re not asking for anything outrageous. We’re simply asking for what is fair.’’
The team for the world championships includes nine women with Minnesota ties. In addition to Lamoureux-Davidson and her sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, the roster features current Gophers Kelly Pannek (Plymouth) and Lee Stecklein (Roseville); former Gophers Hannah Brandt (Vadnais Heights), Gigi Marvin (Warroad), Megan Bozek and Amanda Kessel; and Minnesota Duluth goalie Maddie Rooney (Andover).
A statement from the law firm Ballard Spahr, which is representing the players pro bono, said USA Hockey pays national team members $1,000 per month during the six months leading up to the Olympics. It added that “nearly all’’ of the players’ compensation during the remainder of each four-year Olympic period comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Those athlete stipends are typically meager, even though players are expected to train full-time and attend camps and competitions throughout each year.
In a response Wednesday, USA Hockey said it acknowledges the players’ concerns and has increased its direct support for the buildup to the 2018 Winter Olympics. “USA Hockey remains committed to continuing dialogue,’’ the statement added, “and will field a competitive team’’ for the world championships.
The U.S. women’s hockey team has finished first or second in every world championships.