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