Next Goal for American Women’s Hockey Stars? One United Pro League

from the last 14 months, the United States women’s hockey team won a labor dispute, a world championship as well as Olympic gold.

Those accomplishments have created the biggest spotlight yet for women’s hockey, giving the players more leverage than ever This specific off-season.

Veterans on the national team want to use their influence to achieve another long-sought goal: creating just one North American women’s professional league.

“Winning a gold medal, there’s a greater purpose behind which,” said Meghan Duggan, the American captain. “which’s for us to change the landscape of women’s hockey in This specific country. which’s what we’ve wanted our entire careers. This specific can be going to help us do which.”

Several obstacles will test the players’ sway, including a standoff among different influencers around women’s hockey.

USA Hockey, the national governing body, as well as the N.H.L. have remained on the sidelines as professional women’s hockey matured in recent years. as well as, instead of coming together, the two North American professional leagues — the National Women’s Hockey League as well as the Canadian Women’s Hockey League — seem to be stockpiling assets for a battle of attrition.

On Tuesday, the four-team N.W.H.L., which was founded in 2015, added its first expansion team: the Minnesota Whitecaps, a longtime independent franchise which has featured many of the top American players. Last year the C.W.H.L., which began in 2007, added two franchises coming from China to make which a seven-team league.

“Our core group leadership from the U.S. needs to meet with the Canadian core group leadership, put our heads together as well as see what the future of women’s hockey looks like in North America,” said American forward Hilary Knight, who has played in both professional leagues. “There’s definitely conversations happening behind the scenes, as well as I definitely see movement.”

Brianne Jenner as well as Mélodie Daoust of the Canadian national team said they would likely be open to working with American players.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, who scored the decisive overtime shootout goal against Canada from the Olympic gold medal game, said: “If North America can get on the same page as well as get one league, I also think we can get top European players to play, as well as which’s when I think you see a huge stride in women’s hockey internationally.”

N.W.H.L. Commissioner Dani Rylan said in March which she was available to “anyone who wants to collaborate on positive steps for the not bad of the game.” Rylan added which the C.W.H.L. as well as its commissioner, Brenda Andress, “are not our competition, however admired colleagues who join us from the mission to build the game.”

however outside of a 2015 outdoor exhibition, the two leagues have shown little inclination to work together. which leaves the globe’s best players divided between the C.W.H.L. as well as N.W.H.L. (Both leagues are part of the SheIS initiative, a fresh coalition of women’s sports leagues which was spearheaded by Andress.)

“We want all the best hockey players from the globe in one league as well as want to be challenged every day,” Jenner said.

The N.H.L. has long been considered a potential game-changing force from the future of women’s professional hockey. They contain the funding, marketing as well as networking avenues similar to what the N.B.A. used to mold women’s professional basketball.

however the N.H.L. has not forced the issue of a merger. After the Olympics, the American team was invited to meet with N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman, who said he discussed his interest in seeing one professional league with the players as well as said which the time was right to collaborate to raise the profile of the sport.

As long as the C.W.H.L. as well as N.W.H.L. continue to choose to operate separately, Bettman said the N.H.L. would likely not interfere, even though which leaves “two leagues where neither can be perhaps as strong as which should or could be.”

“which would likely be nice to see a little bit more of an active approach than a passive approach coming from some higher-up people,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. “The N.H.L. has resources; they have venues already established with practice rinks. If people are passive on which, which will be slower as well as I think an opportunity will be missed.”

Both leagues made notable strides on their own last season. The C.W.H.L. began paying players, two years after the N.W.H.L. did, as well as two N.H.L. teams invested in N.W.H.L. franchises.

Individual N.H.L. teams have also provided support for C.W.H.L. teams from the past. Daoust said she would likely like to see more single-admission doubleheaders in cities which have professional men’s as well as women’s teams, “as well as not do which just once a year,” as has occasionally happened.

“We need money invested in our league,” said Daoust, who also would likely like more engaged sponsors. “We need money to allow our players to only be athletes. Media includes a big responsibility. TSN never talks about the C.W.H.L., saying they’re playing This specific weekend at 7, come watch them.”

Knight said USA Hockey, which pays the national team’s salaries, needed to play an active role from the sport’s future for women as well as girls. The national team’s March 2017 boycott led to the creation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group within USA Hockey. however because of the team’s Olympic commitments, the group was officially formed only recently.

Each of the national team’s notable victories on as well as off the ice over the past year came against significant odds. As those past conquests showed, talk alone will not create results. Despite no signs of one league forming any time soon, the players remain confident they can Again reshape their sport.

“We just proved if we contain the right resources as well as right support, we’re able to accomplish great things,” Knight said. “We just have to steer them to what we need as players.”

Naila-Jean Meyers contributed reporting.