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November 22, 2016 | 9:45pm ET
Players in the dark as NWHL fails to provide answers
Concerns over the longevity of the NWHL are all too real for its current players.

TORONTO, ON -- There are still plenty of unanswered questions surrounding the legitimacy and longevity of the NWHL less than a week after we first reported the League was cutting player salaries in half in order to keep their 2016-17 season alive.

After the news came out early Friday morning (or late Thursday night on the west coast), the players voiced their concerns via social media and presented the NWHL with four, fairly reasonable, questions.

The players' questions are as follows:

1) Proof of valid insurance to ensure that the players are not risking their health by playing and practicing;

2) To have an independent third party audit the League's finances right away to ensure that sound financial practices are being employed and to ensure that the League will have sufficient funds to pay the players going forwards;

3) To let the players know the identity of the League's investors;

4) To explain why the League's revenues have diminished so markedly. For example, are there sponsors that have no met their financial commitments to the League? In addition, what has the League done to maximize ticket revenues at the venues used by the League?

To date, the League and Commissioner Dani Rylan have not addressed these four questions, multiple sources have told me. Rylan had conversations with some players on Sunday and/or Monday, and spoke to the media during a conference call on Friday, where she would not discuss the specifics involved in the players' salary cuts, but has not specifically addressed every one of the players' questions listed above, nor has she sent an update to the players since.

Rylan, through the NWHL, released the following statement on Saturday:

"The players have many concerns and disappointments, and I understand that completely. I deeply appreciate that, despite the emotions of the last two days, they have continued with their preparation for tomorrow's games in Buffalo and Newark. My colleagues and I have always and will always do everything in our power to build a professional league that the amazing athletes of the NWHL deserve. Despite our setbacks, we have made many positive strides -- thanks in large part to our players. Our hope is that we can continue a positive, constructive dialogue with the players over the next two weeks."

The concerns for the players are significantly real. Games continued as scheduled on Sunday, but future games are now at risk of being played on schedule.

The NWHL's ambiguity to its players is, all by itself, somewhat concerning. If the players' are being forced to take a 50 per cent wage cut -- the majority of players earn between $14,000 to $17,000 per season -- what guarantees do they have that their already-cut paychecks won't get slashed later in the season?

According to sources, the players want to know what the financial liability of the League is and what their game plan is moving forward. With presumably one major sponsor on board, Dunkin' Donuts, and supposedly a number of personal investors, of whom only one -- Joel Leonoff, CEO of Paysafe Group -- has been revealed publicly, the players may balk at the League's position without generating a clearer picture of the League's sustainability.

The NHL, per League sources, had previously offered to assist in the NWHL's future if they were to find a way to merge with the CWHL.

The future of the NWHL is at serious risk, and so far, their players are in the dark. How much longer the League succeeds is ultimately up to them. After all, sharing is caring.

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.



Nov. 18, 2016 NWHL hit with bad news

Oct. 26, 2016 Don't Forget the 'D'

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