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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


She was a skater girl, and she’s finally getting paid for it

Hillary Knight, above, is a forward for America's first National Women's Hockey League. The NWHL is will be the first professional women's hockey team to pay it's players. PHOTO CREDIT: SARA MELIKIAN
Hilary Knight, above, is a forward for America’s first National Women’s Hockey League. The NWHL is the first professional women’s hockey team to pay its players. PHOTO CREDIT: SARA MELIKIAN

Arguably the best female hockey player in the world, Hilary Knight is finally getting paid. She was invited to practice with the Anaheim Ducks earlier this year and held her own at practice speed. Knight is being touted as the face of the brand-spanking-new National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

But what makes this league so groundbreaking is that it will be the first professional women’s hockey league that will pay its players.

For many years, the only option for female hockey players was to go to their respective country’s Olympic trials and camps or play in the unpaid Canadian Women’s Hockey League, where players had to contribute as much as $350 per player to pay the team’s franchising fee.

What the NWHL is offering is the first step in the right direction for female hockey players. Make no mistake, these girls can flat-out play the game of hockey. To discredit this as simply a gimmick or circus act like the lingerie football league would be a great injustice.  

There are noticeable differences between men’s and women’s hockey. The women’s game is a lot more open and looks noticeably faster on TV compared to the men’s game. In the Olympics, women’s hockey is a relatively new event, having only been in the games since 1998. But during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the women’s hockey gold medal game between the United States and Canada was the second most viewed event during the entirety of the games.

The NWHL salary cap of $270,000 does not leave a lot for the athletes, averaging out to $15,000 per player. Every player does not make the same salary, as it’s based on talent with a league minimum of $10,000 per player.

The NCAA should take a lesson from the NWHL: all players get 15 percent of the profit from the sale of their individual jersey.

Obviously, this is a part-time job and something to supplement the athlete’s income, and the league has a system in place to encourage job placement. Women are eligible to be drafted as early as their junior year of college. They then have their entire senior year of college to work out their job status.

The scary thing for a long time for female hockey players was that they had no forum to showcase their talent. The commissioner of the league, Dani Rylan, explained, “I had heard this story too many times, an incredible collegiate player walks into a public rink carrying her own bags playing with high schoolers or beer leaguers and thinking ‘Oh my god, what happened.’”

The NWHL has received extremely positive feedback from those within the hockey community and has created a genuine buzz among young girls who want to play hockey for the first time. So instead of picking up those figure skates, they can pick up some hockey skates and not be just one of the boys, but one of the girls.

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