Snohomish native Lexi Bender, one of the top women’s hockey players in the country, declined to comment on the women’s professional hockey player boycott that was announced Thursday.
More than 200 women’s professional hockey players, led by the likes of U.S. national team stars Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne-Schofield, said in a statement released Thursday evening that they “will not play in ANY professional leagues in North America this season until we get the resources that professional hockey demands and deserves.”
— Hilary Knight (@HilaryKnight) May 2, 2019
Bender is an all-star defender for the National Women’s Hockey League’s Boston Pride, having played three seasons in the NWHL following a stellar collegiate career at Boston College.
When reached by email, Bender said she wasn’t in a position to comment at this time. Bender did not post the boycott statement, which includes the hashtag #ForTheGame, on her social media feeds, as many of the players who support the boycott did. Though the statement said there were more than 200 players who supported the boycott, there did not appear to be a full list of those who were participating in the boycott.
The NWHL is the last remaining professional women’s hockey league in North America, following the folding of the rival Canadian Women’s Hockey League on Wednesday. The NWHL contains five teams located in Boston, Buffalo, New York, Newark, New Jersey, Stamford, Connecticut, and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The NWHL was planning on expanding into Canada to Toronto and Montreal for the 2019-20 season, and there’s been rumblings about bringing a franchise to Seattle to correspond with the launch of the NHL expansion team that will begin play in 2021. However, it’s possible the player boycott could affect those plans, as well as disrupt operations for the 2019-20 season, which is slated to begin in the fall.