If you’re studying this, you already know about #ForTheGame. You, like me, noticed the coordinated blitz on social media, you probably watched it spread like wildfire, clicking ‘refresh’ time and again to see who was subsequent.
And then, at 11:04, mins after the biggest names in North American hockey published their scheduled message, things got interesting.
Forward Michelle Karvinen, who plays her club hockey at Luleå Hockey/MSSK and internationally for Team Finland, have become the primary SDHL player to join in. The first, and some distance from the ultimate.
Ronja Savolainen. Andrea Dalen. Jenni Hiirikoski. Pernilla Winberg. Fanny Rask. Lovisa Berndtsson. Sara Grahn. Eveliina Suonpää. The list is going on. Players throughout the league loaned their voices to the movement. In neighboring Finland, Kiekko-Espoo defender Minttu Tuominen did the equal, the only Naisten Liiga participant (to the first-class of my information) to achieve this.
It’s vital to be aware that the #ForTheGame social media posts from European players in Finland and Sweden aren’t a declaration of an upcoming labor stoppage of their respective leagues. Many of the most well-known names to put up — like Hiirikoski, Grahn, and Tuominen — are already signed for next season.
AIK ahead Frida Ekdahl described her selection to post to The Ice Garden:
“I felt it changed into vital to expose team spirit for the sport of women’s hockey. Because even though we come from specific countries, even continents, and feature exclusive preconditions we all want the identical thing; to be time-honored in a ‘guys’ game’ and that women someday will have the equal opportunities as a male hockey participant on the highest degree, regardless of country.”
Team Sweden head coach Ylva Martinsen, herself a former SDHL defender and Damkronorna Olympian, also took observe.
“For me, the information of the movement is important even though I coach a countrywide crew,” she instructed The Ice Garden. “I assume this is a rely on such a lot of within the sport, who fought so long for a change for the higher.”
Inequality in girls’ hockey is as old as the game itself, and parallels run effortlessly between Europe and North America.
Players inside the SDHL and the Naisten Liiga aren’t capable of financially assist themselves with hockey on my own. Some are college students, others work as graphic designers, nurses, Air Force service participants, and crew General Managers, to name just a few.
Conditions, sources, and reimbursement in which it’s to be had a range from group to team in both leagues. Luleå Hockey/MSSK, one of the finest-run ladies’ groups in the sport, established pay for all their senior gamers last season, as opposed to paying only some as they have been before. It’s nevertheless now not a dwelling salary, but sufficient to allow the team to reduce their activity loads and train during the day as opposed to at night time after a workday.
This, sadly, is the exception as opposed to the rule. There’s certainly not sufficient funding in ladies’ hockey and the financial burden of bridging that hole often falls on players.
Which sucks. A lot.
The pay-to-play structure is still in place in many locations throughout Finland; a few groups are working to mitigate it as a great deal as possible, however, the price remains completely real trouble for even us of a’s maximum elite players. The difficulty has sent a number of Finland’s excellent players overseas, mainly to Sweden: out of 23 players rostered at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championships, 10 play their club hockey in the DHL.
There’s also the difficulty of insurance. Naisten Liiga players pay for his or her personal coverage, however, the Finnish federation has a deal in an area with one particular corporation to get them a completely reduced fee for hockey.
Over inside the SDHL, communications director Angelica Lindeberg instructed The Ice Garden: “At the moment the gamers don’t receive any insurance via the league however is one among many things we’re working with to set up.”
A Different Structure
Both the SDHL and the Naisten Liiga are administered by using their respective national federations, and the Swedish Ice Hockey Association lately prolonged its agreement with the SDHL via 2023. Neither USA Hockey nor Hockey Canada has (or had) any role in strolling the NWHL or the CWHL.
In other words, a #ForTheGame motion in Finland and Sweden would be in direct competition of countrywide governing our bodies. The gamers, specifically younger ones looking to earn a spot on their national teams, need to ask in the event that they’re inclined to take that risk.
A Season Abroad?
Let’s say negotiations this offseason cross completely nuclear. Full-on, scorch-the-earth-and-salt-its barren-dregs nuclear. Do the North Americans head to Europe? Are they desired in Europe?
That relies upon on who you ask.
The debate approximately overseas gamers in the SDHL has raged for years. Everyone from Swedish Ice Hockey Association chairman Anders Larsson to Swedish Olympic Committee CEO Peter Reinebo has opted to scapegoat import gamers for the Damkronorna’s disappointing international consequences instead of actually managing their very own companies’ disasters.