Women’s hockey stars not discouraged by NWHL setbacks

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Meghan Duggan(AP) — Women’s hockey stars Meghan Duggan and Hilary Knight say they aren’t concerned about the future of the National Women’s Hockey League despite a turbulent second season.

Duggan told The Associated Press on Tuesday night she still expects “big things for the league” despite a pair of setbacks in recent months. The four-team NWHL is the first North American women’s hockey league to pay its players, but in November those salaries were cut by half. Then last week, the league announced this season will be cut short before national team players leave for the world championships, which begin March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan.

“It’s a startup. It’s the growing pains of it all,” Duggan said. “I think if you look back … the NHL and how it all started, or any of the pro sports leagues around the country, it’s just growing pains. We’re doing everything we can to keep the product great on the ice.”

The league, which pays players between $10,000 and $26,000 per season, also announced last week that all four franchises — New York; Boston; Stamford, Connecticut; and Buffalo, New York — will return for a third season.