After years of orchestrating some of the biggest triumphs in American women’s hockey, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando announced their retirements Tuesday.
The Lamoureuxs, who scored the decisive goals in the gold medal game of the 2018 Olympics, originally intended to help the United States defend its title at the 2022 Games in Beijing.
In an interview this month, the Lamoureux twins, 31, said they had prioritized spending time with their families and cited the loss of three elderly relatives in recent years and the coronavirus pandemic as factors in their decisions. Both sisters became mothers within the past two years, and Lamoureux-Morando is expecting another child in a few weeks.
The sisters’ retirements come four months after that of Meghan Duggan, the captain of the 2018 team. But the three players will continue to have an impact on the national team from off the ice.
Duggan sits on USA Hockey’s board of directors, serving as an important female voice within the national governing body, an organization that has historically lacked diversity. She and the Lamoureuxs were leaders four years ago in pushing USA Hockey to provide the women’s team contracts that ensured livable salaries, about $70,000 per year.
With the 2017 deal set to expire in one month, Lamoureux-Morando and Lamoureux-Davidson are helping to reach a new deal as members of the players’ negotiating committee.
“That will kind of be our last stamp on the program as players.” Lamoureux-Morando said.
The retirements leave the team with a leadership void, said Hilary Knight, who debuted with the Lamoureuxs on the national team in 2006.
“Honestly, I don’t think anyone will ever replace them,” Knight said. “The three of them set an extraordinary example, not only what it’s like to be a member of this team, but in ambassadorship and social components off the ice.”
Lamoureux-Morando said the negotiations were “definitely at a more positive place” than they were at this point in 2017, praising USA Hockey for creating more “open dialogue” with the women’s team.
In March 2017, just two weeks before the start of a world championship tournament, the national team announced plans to boycott the event if players didn’t receive a fair contract from USA Hockey.
Duggan and the Lamoureuxs not only ensured that every member of their team was fully on board with the boycott; they also called hundreds of female players through all levels of the sport, gaining their allegiance and promises that they would not accept offers to compete in the world championship as replacement players.
When a new deal was announced three days before the world championship tournament started, the four-year contract included benefits like maternity leave, which the Lamoureuxs and Duggan were the first to use.
“We’re definitely building off the previous contract instead of working from ground zero,” Lamoureux-Morando said, adding that players were cognizant that the pandemic had affected operations throughout sports, including the 2020 women’s hockey world championship and other events. “The players’ perception is: How do we make the next contract better, what can be fixed?”
When asked in early February where negotiations stood with the women’s national team, a spokeswoman for USA Hockey said there was “nothing on that front.”
Duggan and the Lamoureuxs said that creating more opportunities in American hockey for underrepresented groups was a priority.
According to USA Hockey’s most recent diversity scorecard report, from 2019, about 19 percent of the 91 voting members on its board of directors were women — about half of the desired benchmark set by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. (USA Hockey reported zero people of color on its board, even though Julie Chu, who is Asian-American, is a longtime member.)
The lack of women with powerful positions in USA Hockey makes Duggan’s presence notable. In 2017, Chu, a four-time medal-winner, was a vocal proponent of the women’s national team’s fight and pushed the board to reconsider talks when negotiations were falling apart.
“It gives us a voice to be able to advocate and bring forth certain things” Duggan said.
ImageCredit…Annie Tritt for The New York Times
Completing negotiations for the 2017 contract did not immediately mend the relationship between the governing body and the women’s team.
In a forthcoming book by Lamoureux-Morando and Lamoureux-Davidson, of which a New York Times reporter reviewed an advance copy, the players describe puzzling treatment from USA Hockey leading up to the 2018 Olympics.
This included coaches instituting mandatory weigh-ins and comments about players being out of shape, which created “unhealthy stress” for members of the team, Lamoureux-Davidson wrote.
She added that when the veteran forward Kelli Stack was left off the roster before the Olympics, Coach Robb Stauber seemed to use Stack’s omission as a threat that the Lamoureuxs’ spots could be at risk as well. Stauber did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Before the pandemic, USA Hockey began securing more women’s games in bigger arenas and with more national television coverage. In 2017, USA Hockey heralded the creation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group, a collection of former and current national team players and staff members that was to help USA Hockey’s promotion, marketing and fund-raising efforts for girls’ and women’s hockey. But the group only began regular meetings in 2019.
As Duggan and the Lamoureuxs step away from playing, they listed several players who could emerge as leaders alongside Knight and Kacey Bellamy, two veterans who were also at the forefront of the 2017 negotiations.
Kendall Coyne Schofield, Lee Stecklein, Brianna Decker and Megan Keller were all mentioned as possible heirs as locker room leaders.
“We know that we’re on our way out and other players need to start coming in and filling our roles,” Lamoureux-Morando said. “This upcoming contract and being a part of securing more for those players is really important to us.”