The IX Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala – May 24, 2019

New PA, same Twitter account - Interview with Kaleigh Fratkin - must-click women's hockey links

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A new Players Association

Yes, there is more women’s hockey news. However, I am not sure we’re any closer to knowing what the 2019-20, or the 2020-21 season will actually look like.

On the one hand, we got details on the new NWHL contracts. The cliff notes, per the NWHLPA attorney (received today) are as follows:

  • Ensures a full 24-game schedule for all five NWHL teams during the 2019-20 season beginning in October 2019 and concluding in April 2020

  • For the first time, includes NWHL players in fifty-fifty sponsor revenue sharing after league installation expenses have been met

  • Salary increases above the 2018-19 season agreement

  • Significant increases to travel, per diem and meal allotments  

  • League option to extend the agreement to 2020-21 season 

A few things, the per diem increased from $20 to $25 per Anya Battaglino. While the dollar amount is (of the total or the increase) is slight, Battaglino is encouraged that it shows improvement. Per diem was once as low as $10 for NWHL players. Additionally, Anya is encouraged that players will now have breakfast and a hearty postgame meal provided for away trips. Per Diem will also be paid in advance.

Yes, there are some glaring issues here. If this is better, what was “normal”?

Two other snags came up in the court of the Twitterverse 1) an earlier version of the release stated, “more routine pay schedule”. A league representative shared with me that no decision was made regarding expansion, despite the NWHLPA release referring to five teams.

Again, things are moving fast, but still lack clarity. In the meantime, we have seen the first two former NWHL players and #ForTheGame advocates sign in the SDHL. Katerina Mrazova and Desina Krizova have both signed with Brynäs IF in Sweden.

The NWHL also got a huge re-signing today as speedster Allie Thunstrom will return to the Minnesota Whitecaps.

Departures, new contracts, new PA, re-signings. Am I the only one feeling unsure as opposed to excited?

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

Here is more about the PWHPA from:

Shannon Doyle re-signs with the Connecticut Whale.

Nora Räty weighs in on new Players Association, claims 2020 is the goal for new women’s league.

No more Unified Korea Team in women’s hockey. South Korea goes it alone for Olympic qualifying event.

The Ice Garden has a NWHL signing tracker ready for the 2019-20 season.

Marisa Ingemi is still offering women’s hockey content while preparing for the Stanley Cup Finals.

Madison Packer re-signs with the Riveters.

VIDEO: Jill Saulnier talks hockey in her hometown of Nova Scocia.

Kelty Apperson Q&A over at The Ice Garden.

I’ve spoken on what women’s hockey players can learn from the WNBA. It’s not necessarily their brother-sister model, but more what they are still fighting for 23 years later, that is important.

Meaghan Mikkelson named co-chair of the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf.

Women’s hockey and the NHL? “Be careful what you wish for” writes Ken Campbell.

Don’t forget The Ice Garden has a NWHL Signings Tracker!

Tweet of the Week

Sarah Bryant, Katie Fitzgerald, and Kimberly Sass are hosting goalie camps. Does experience as a baseball/softball catcher easily translate on the ice? Asking for me.

Five at The IX: Kaleigh Fratkin, Boston Pride

Kaleigh Fratkin begins her fifth NWHL season and her third with the Boston Pride this summer. Fratty spoke to The IX Wednesday night about re-signing, playing for head coach Paul Mara, and her take on how likely the fifth NWHL season is given #ForTheGame.

Erica L. Ayala: I want to ask you about working with Coach Mara. I’m curious what your first season with him was like in Boston and what you’re excited for this upcoming season?

Kaleigh Fratkin: Yeah, he’s very experienced, obviously has a great in-depth playing career. Played a ton of seasons in the NHL, and him being a defenseman himself, he’s got a got a ton of knowledge. But aside from that, his coaching style is something that I thought I really enjoyed and just a player off the ice and off the ice. He allows for a lot of creativity, there is not too many systems or too many things like that. So, I think he himself having the experience he’s had, he’s kind of that player’s coach and really understands what it’s like from our side of it.

From that experience from last year, there’s only positive going into this year. And that’s why it was definitely attractive when he did offer a contract. It was kind of a no-brainer for me, given all the stuff going on the background, there’s all the other noise going on. But aside from that, from that perspective, it was it was very easy for me to want to to be a part of the team that he’s leading.

ELA: Yeah, and you hit on a few things. And I know I told you we’d transition to this eventually. But I am curious to get your take. You were one of the players early on that that was asked your thoughts about the state of women’s hockey. What made you confident to sign up another NWHL season? Also, how confident are you that there will be another NWHL season and that you’ll be able to hit the ice with a full roster for for Boston?

KF: Being in this league from day one, I’ve kind of seen it all and stuck in the league with salary cuts. When you go through the infancy of a business or start up a business, there’s always ups and downs. And I see it now in my own professional career on the business side of it, there’s a ton of ups and downs whether it’s a startup or not.

I’ve seen a ton of growth in the past couple years of the NWHL and that’s what really has pushed me in the mindset and has allowed me to feel comfortable to speak up. I know there’s a lot of players that have been vocal anonymously or behind the scenes have been talking maybe not in the public eye. But you know, either an original NW tellers, whatever it may be. But for me, because of that progress that I’ve seen in especially last year with Minnesota turning a profit, and just seeing the growth in general of attendance records and average attendance.

For me, as I said has been here from day one, when I was approached to be a part of the movement or not, I had to take step back and say, I have all of these questions. And like when someone’s coming to you and saying, ‘Hey, NHL is going to start a league and we’re gonna not play for a year there’s this gap year, like our yet on board or not?’

Questions are going through my mind at that point. And, you know, how concrete is this? And, you know, just kind of questions where I’ve been part of something and building something from the ground up. And, yes, of course, I want what’s best for the sport. And, of course, I want that ultimate endgame for the growth and allowing the younger generation to be looking at this as a viable professional sport, of course I do.

But, is that the route that we should be going? And for me, I wasn’t given enough information, you know. Still right now there’s a ton of question marks.

ELA: It seems like from conversations when you were involved in some of these conversations that the NHL was being dangled as a carrot. So I’m just trying to get a sense of how real is a direct line to the NHL, from your perspective?

KF: When I was first approached with this, I had people saying I had personal conversations with Gary Bettman, NHL execs. And I mean, quite honestly, if you are having personal conversations with that guy, you would have at least taken some notes, or done something to prove that you were having these conversations with him. I just think there’s a lot of hearsay … and there’s legitimately nothing concrete. And I would say that if you are, you know, throwing around Gary Bettman’s name, and you’re throwing around NHL leadership but you have nothing to have proof behind that, I mean, that seems a little fishy to me.

It just seems like a lot of question marks. And it’s like, what the heck are we doing? We all want the same goal here. But like, I think there’s a lot of people that don’t have a lot to risk through all this. So a lot of people that are like heading up that movement that played in the CWHL tell their entire lives, never played once in the NWHL. Their league folds and they don’t have anything to lose, or they’re a national team player and they have sponsorships, and make a living off of some endorsements.

I don’t think there’s anything clear and concrete. And I think there’s a lot of people throwing around high level names and leadership groups. I think we have bigger fish to fry.

ELA: Right. And, you know, that’s interesting, trying to push back … my interpretation is some people would attribute some of what you just said to the NWHL and Dani Rylan her as well, as far as what expansion to Canada would look like whether we’re talking about three years ago, or, you know, a few weeks ago.

I’m just curious if in that context, knowing that that’s some of what the league and the founder of the league are up against, what makes you confident to choose this route, as opposed to the other route?

KF: Well, I think the growth in the last two years was a reason for that. I also think that, you know, playing is the best thing to do. I was with a lot of players, that was when all this movement was going on, they were like, ‘I just want to play, should I be doing this?’

I was hearing about more of the partnerships that were developing – and this type of information was easily accessible for all these players. And whether the players wanted to do their due diligence or not, and ask … what was going on behind the scenes in the season, could have easily done that. Anya has done a really good job as PA director saying, ‘Please, any feedback, like we’re here trying to get you guys like, we’re writing the script for a contract here’.

I know some stuff is changing now because of this, this whole movement. But prior to that, or on the cusp of that, other partnerships were developing with NHL teams …there was just a lot of positives and good directions kind of going into the season where it seems just completely silly to take a murky route.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala