wickenheiser retires
Simply the best
One of the newest IIHF Hall of Fame honourees, Hayley Wickenheiser is more than just the most decorated player in Canada’s National Women’s Team history
Jason La Rose
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February 6, 2019
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It has been 9,068 days since Hayley Wickenheiser made her debut with Canada’s National Women’s Team as a fresh-faced 15-year-old at the 1994 IIHF World Women’s Championship in Lake Placid, N.Y.

In the 24 years, nine months and 27 days since, all she has managed to do is become the face of a sport, and there is little debate she is the most famous women’s hockey player in the world.

“Her dedication to the sporting world, desire to improve and work ethic have never faltered since the day she started with our program,” says Melody Davidson, head scout for national women’s teams with Hockey Canada, and a long-time national team coach.

“She evolved into a leader on and off the ice and set standards that pushed our athletes, staff and program to attain heights that at times appeared unreachable."

Her numbers alone are staggering: Wickenheiser – who was announced Wednesday as one of the 2019 inductees into the IIHF Hall of Fame – finished her international career with 168 goals, 211 assists and 379 points in 276 games. All those top the all-time list for Team Canada, and none will be surpassed anytime soon.

To put her career totals in perspective, Marie-Philip Poulin is the leader in all four categories among players who have been active in 2018-19, and she sits 159 games, 103 goals, 141 assists and 244 points behind the pride of Shaunavon, Sask.

She entered the national team program as a prodigy, having scored the gold medal-winning goal for Alberta as a 12-year-old at the 1991 Canada Winter Games, facing off against players up to five years older than her.

After a golden debut in Lake Placid – the first of seven world titles she would lay claim to – Wickenheiser posted nine points at the 1997 women’s worlds, and put up 30 points in 27 games in the 1997-98 Olympic season at the age of 19, a glimpse of what was to come over the next two decades.

In the end, what hasn’t Wickenheiser done?

She has four Olympic gold medals to her name (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) in addition to seven world championship gold, has MVP and Top Forward awards (2002 and 2006 at the Olympics, 2007 at women’s worlds), and was a frequent member of the all-star team at both – nine times in all.

She is the all-time leader in goals (18), assists (33) and points (51) at the Olympics, and tops the list for assists (49) and points (86) at the IIHF Women’s World Championship.

She wore the ‘C’ for Canada’s National Women’s Team for seven seasons, from 2006 to 2013, leading her country to two world championships and an Olympic gold medal during that run.

And she was just as good with her club teams, winning an NWHL championship and three WWHL titles with the Calgary Oval X-Treme, a CIS national championship with the University of Calgary and a Clarkson Cup with the Calgary Inferno.

So she’s a winner. And she’s been a winner for a long time.

“There’s no doubt Hayley’s inner drive and desire to be the best has kept her in the game,” Davidson says. “Her dedication to building her skill set, fitness, passion and love for the game have always been evident and they are all factors that played a role in her ability to be part of so many gold medals for Canada.”

But be assured, Wickenheiser is going to be remembered for far more than her on-ice accomplishments, as impressive and record-breaking as they may be.

She has tirelessly travelled across the country and around the world promoting the women’s game, promoting healthy living, and promoting the power of sport.

“Her accomplishments on and off the ice speak for themselves and have played a part in fueling the growth of women’s hockey worldwide,” Davidson says. “She always pushed the traditional norms, whether it was playing with the men or the type of game we played. A product of her small-town Saskatchewan roots and the way she was raised, she has a strong sense of community and consistently gives back to sport.

“She has always made an effort to be available for everyone at any time, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there were plenty of young women with the name Hayley in communities across our country because of her.”

In 2011, when she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada “for her achievements as an athlete and for her contributions to the growth of women’s hockey,” Wickenheiser was in Ghana, West Africa, with international humanitarian and development agency Right to Play.

She took a leading role in the Ambassador and Mentor Program with the International Ice Hockey Federation that same year, helping set direction and provide support for athlete ambassadors that worked with developing women’s hockey nations.

And in 2014, as the Sochi Games came to a close, she was elected to the IOC Athletes Commission, an elite group that works with the International Olympic Committee on behalf of athletes in all sports.

Through it all, Wickenheiser has kept focus on the future of the women’s game in Canada, which in 2010 led to the creation of the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival – Wickfest – which brings together female teams from across the country and around the world for not only on-ice action, but workshops and clinics that build better players and better people.

Ultimately, that’s what Hayley Wickenheiser has always been about: making the game – and the country –better. She did it on the ice and off, helping bring Team Canada success and becoming a role model for thousands of young girls across the country.

As the post-career accolades begin to roll in, how will Wickenheiser ultimately be remembered? Even Davidson isn’t sure.

“Legacies continue to evolve long after players stop playing, so it’s hard to say exactly what her legacy will be,” she says. “Hayley is always going to be someone people can relate to, and there’s no doubt she is going to continue to have an important voice at the highest level for women in sport and society.”

There are plenty of words that can be used to describe her – leader, teammate, winner, superstar, trailblazer, pioneer, ambassador … the list goes on. Is it possible to choose just one? Probably not.

So let’s just leave it like this…

Thank you, Hayley.

For more information:

Vacant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
[email protected]

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-612-2893 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

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