ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - It wasn’t the offseason Tori Hickel and her sister Zoe planned on.
The Anchorage professional women’s hockey players aren’t preparing to make another run at a Clarkson Cup in the Candian Women’s Hockey League. Instead, they're fighting for the future of professional women’s hockey.
Zoe and Tori Hickel after they won the 2019 Clarkson Cup with the Calgary Inferno. (Courtesy: Zoe Hickel)
The Hickel sisters and hundreds of other professional women’s hockey players took to social media Thursday as part of the #ForTheGame movement.
“It’s really about getting a viable and sustainable league for women’s professional hockey,” said Zoe Hickel.
“It’s not a boycott, or a chance for equal pay. It’s more fighting for the opportunity to have the resources in order to create a sustainable league,” said Tori Hickel.
A week after Zoey and Tori hoisted the Clarkson Cup for the Calgary Inferno, they were informed the CWHL would be folding. That left the National Women’s Hockey League as the only other option for professional women’s hockey players.
Zoe played two seasons in the NWHL from 2015 to 2017 for the Boston Pride and Connecticut Whale.
“We know that it’s not a sustainable league (NWHL) the business plan, and what’s happening in that league is something that we are not willing to go back to,” said Zoe Hickel. “We don’t want anything from the NWHL, we are not holding out for anything. We just want to close that chapter and start a new one.”
The NWHL did respond to #ForTheGame movement, and said its plans were still in place for the 2019-20 season.
The @NWHL has issued a statement regarding #ForTheGame.— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) May 2, 2019
Plans for the 2019-20 season are still in place. The league has been working with the NWHLPA for increased salaries and 50-50 revenue splits for players on media rights deals and league-wide sponsorships. pic.twitter.com/3MJRbMTBA4
The #ForTheGame movement has sparked discussion and put pressure on the National Hockey League to get more involved in professional women’s hockey.
Saturday the NHL Players' Association released a statement and said it was encouraged that players were taking an active role in the future of women’s hockey.
Along with the players' association, tennis legend and pioneer for equality Billie Jean King shared her support for the #ForTheGame movement as well.
“Billie Jean King has been a really big mentor for us,” said Zoe Hickel. “She told us things are going to be hard, it’s going to be hard to communicate, and make sure people are educated on what we are doing.”
Both Tori and Zoey recognized the importance that the #ForTheGame movement could have on the future of women’s hockey. Recently Tori held a clinic in Anchorage, and had players thanking her.
“They were like, ‘Thank you so much for standing up for what’s right. Hopefully we have an opportunity in the future,’ ” said Tori. “It really impacts them, it’s exciting for them, and it’s motivating."
This August, the two sisters will play for Team America in the Aurora Games in Albany, NY.