The NHL players' association released a statement Friday saying its members "fully support" the United States women's team in its ongoing labor dispute with USA Hockey, but some players appear to be willing to go further to back the cause.
Hockey agent Allan Walsh tweeted Sunday about rumors in NHL circles that American players might boycott the upcoming World Championships to show their solidarity with the women's team, and USA Today Sports later confirmed such discussions have taken place.
Word circulating among NHL players that American players will refuse to play in men's World Championships in solidarity with the women.— Allan Walsh (@walsha) March 26, 2017
The USA Today report says NHL players will boycott if USA Hockey attempts to use replacement players for the Women's World Championships, which begin Friday in Plymouth, Mich. The governing body has reportedly been reaching out to potential replacements for several days with little luck.
"I don't know of any player who told USA Hockey, yes," Anya Battaglino, the head of the National Women's Hockey League Players' Association, told ESPN.com Friday.
The women's national team players have been at odds with the governing body for more than a year over compensation and other issues.
The men's World Championships will be held in France and Germany from May 5-21.