The only remaining league in North America, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL), is no longer satisfactory for a large group of players. They cited low-pay, insufficient medical care and a lack of adequate equipment and training resources. Knight said there was nothing the NWHL could promise that would get her to come back at this point.The hashtag developed into the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) later in May. While not a league, the PWHPA organized the “Dream Gap Tour,” a series of weekend showcases with teams resembling CWHL squads from last season. Tennis legend Billie Jean King has offered her support through her foundation.In the current system, only some players can make a living off just hockey. Erica Ayala, the co-founder of and women’s hockey writer for TheIX Newsletter, said Coyne Schofield reportedly made $7,000 last year in the NWHL, in addition to her national team dues, which Ayala estimated added up to about $80,000 dollars a year. But this year, Coyne Schofield isn’t playing in the NWHL.Quinn made $2,000 last year without bonuses. The maximum salary was $10,000. That’s not nearly enough for a season’s rent, especially in Toronto. Practices were also held at 9 p.m. to account for players having full-time day jobs to support themselves. While the NWHL has shown evidence of providing health insurance, one player who asked to remain anonymous wants the league to provide better access to protective measures like high-end mouth guards.“If I knew nothing about girls’ hockey and I walked in, and I didn’t know anything about funding, and you told me this was professional hockey,” Quinn said, “I would laugh at you.”Brooke Avery chose to play for the Metropolitan Riveters in the NWHL this season. “I don’t think that boycotting a league and deciding not to play is really the right way to go about it … Why not work to make it better rather than try to shut it down,” Avery said. Courtesy of Kate Frese.Quinn graduated from Syracuse in 2018 and tried playing professionally for a year. She’s now transitioned into being the assistant women’s hockey coach at SUNY Cortland.During one trip to Calgary last season, Quinn’s team had to drive an additional two hours after a flight was delayed for eight hours for an “out of town” game scheduled by the league. After the 10 p.m. Saturday game, they drove two hours back to Calgary, flew to Toronto and played the next morning at 10 a.m. Players went back to their day jobs less than a day later on Monday.“It’s just insane,” Quinn said. “So just the travel schedule and the food on the road, that was my main thing that shocked me.”Syracuse treated players “like gold,” Quinn said. With the Orange, she could get her skates sharpened whenever she wanted. If she broke a stick, a new one was there to replace it. With the Furies, Quinn had one stick all season. If she wanted a top-of-the-line stick, she would have to pay upwards of $60. Quinn resorted to collecting all her sticks from her time at Syracuse to reduce the cost.New laces, under gear and shorts were all provided by Syracuse. Quinn said she hadn’t bought a piece of equipment in about five years before playing in the CWHL.“It’s almost like you’re playing minor hockey again,” Quinn said. “And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just like when you have been treated and got that treatment in college, you just kind of take it for granted.”Eva Suppa | Digital Design EditorDoctor’s visits for major injuries were covered, though. One of Quinn’s fingertips nearly came off in a game when she went to block a shot, and she had to get stitches from a team doctor. When she had trouble with those stitches later on, there was a separate doctor in Toronto that she called, say she was in the CWHL and booked an appointment that she didn’t have to pay extra for.The Furies trainers weren’t full-time, and players only had access to them for an hour before their two mandatory and one optional practice per week.When Munroe thought about joining the CWHL, Quinn didn’t sugarcoat the reality of playing in the league. But Munroe didn’t care.“She never turned away from it,” Quinn said. “I think that girl loves hockey, so she’ll play anything.”The Inferno had a partnership with a junior team called the “Junior Inferno,” Hagg said. They wanted to do a mentorship-type program with youth teams, but that fell through because there were 40 girls youth hockey teams in Calgary and only 25 girls on the Inferno. About half of those 25 also held full-time jobs.Hagg said Calgary did offer dressing room tours or autographs for girls, ranging from five to 17 years old. But many age groups in between were missed because the Inferno only played on Saturday nights and Sundays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. That overlapped with schedules for many traveling teams in the area.“Everyone was that girl [in the stands] at one point, and without a pro league, that’s the thing. They have nothing,” Quinn said. “They have college to look forward to, but they want to be at a pro level eventually.”Eva Suppa | Digital Design EditorThe NWHL is now the only remaining professional women’s hockey league in North America. Its season started on Saturday and it announced a partnership with Twitch this season to stream all its games.The NWHL’s commissioner, Dani Rylan, told The Athletic it was “hurtful” knowing there are players that want to see the closure of her league. Rylan believes that women’s professional hockey can be viable without the NHL’s interjection. The NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, has said that his league does not want to interfere with women’s hockey unless there is no other viable North American league.Now more than five months since the #ForTheGame hashtag launched, it’s hard to grasp a concrete picture of what the movement wants to happen. The split between players and owners for sponsor-related revenues in the NWHL is split in half. But a gap still exists between those in the PWHPA and those that continue to play in the NWHL.It’s not hostile, Avery said. But it goes back to the start of the movement when a conference call on April 29 that involved Rylan, NWHLPA president Anya Battaglino, PWHPA members and others was “frustrating” and “unprofessional,” according to multiple players Ayala talked to.Both sides were unappeased and left unclear about what’s next for professional women’s hockey in North America. A summer of protest promised hope for the future. Instead, it’s left more questions than answers. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 6, 2019 at 10:18 pm Contact Arabdho: [email protected] | @aromajumder Megan Quinn’s phone was buzzing. She left a meeting on Sunday, March 31, to find more than 100 messages in her Toronto Furies’ group chat.The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) had set up a conference call at 10 a.m., which coincided with Quinn’s other meeting. She missed what would be publicly announced later that day.The CWHL was folding.“No one was expecting it at all,” Quinn said. “And kind of, people were scared. Like, where do we go from here?”The season prior had been “business as usual,” with no significant differences from past years, said Kristen Hagg, former general manager for the 2019 Clarkson Cup winning Calgary Inferno. During the conference call, the chair of the board, Laurel Walzak, said the league was no longer financially viable, former Markham Thunder general manager Chelsea Purcell said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe board knew of the decision, Hagg said, but no one working in the league offices and none of the other managers she spoke to expected the announcement. The players had no say, Quinn said. There was no discussion on how the league could be saved because the decision had already been made.A day after the CWHL officially ceased operations on May 1, more than 200 women’s hockey players from around the globe announced they will not play professionally in North America. Hilary Knight, the “face” of women’s hockey in the US, and Kendall Coyne Schofield, a six-time IIHF World Championship gold medalist, topped the list. But it trickled down to players just coming out of college, like ex-Syracuse defender Allie Munroe, who was planning on playing in Toronto with her former teammate, Quinn, but is now playing in Sweden. Despite Munroe moving overseas, fellow 2019 graduate Brooke Avery signed with the Metropolitan Riveters in August.This statement was released that day by those players, birthing the movement: #ForTheGame.