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The long overdue inclusion and recognition of women in hockey

Hayley Wickenheiser (left) and Cassie Campbell-Pascall (right). Photo courtesy of CBC.

In 2010, history was made when Angela James and Cammi Granato were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Not a single woman had been a member prior and this was only eight years ago. The current decade has been characterized by progress in finally including and recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of women in hockey.

Since James and Granato’s respective inductions, Geraldine Heaney was added in 2013, Angela Ruggiero in 2015, Danielle Goyette in 2017, and Jayna Hefford most recently in 2018. It’s still not where it should be, and far behind schedule to begin with, but there are noticeable changes occurring and it’s for the betterment of the game.

Another milestone is the addition of Cassie Campbell-Pascall to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee, which had previously consisted of men for its entire existence. There is a dire need for more diversity in hockey, especially in more powerful roles, and Campbell-Pascall’s new position is a way of beginning this diversification.

It’s likely inevitable based on her resume, but the fact she isn’t already a Hall of Fame inductee is baffling. She’s one of very few people in the sport who’s worthy of both the player and builder categories, captaining Canada to two Olympic gold medals and establishing an excellent broadcasting career following her retirement as a player.

Hayley Wickenheiser also made headlines when, this past August, she was hired as the assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Similar to Campbell-Pascall’s role with the Hockey Hall of Fame, Wickenheiser’s hiring contributes to diversifying the game and exposing hockey to a wider range of perspectives.

At the top of next year’s list for the Hockey Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony should, undoubtedly, be Wickenheiser. As one of the greatest players in the game’s history, Wickenheiser was a member of the Canadian Olympic team in four gold medal victories and is the all-time leading scorer in Olympic women’s hockey with 51 points in 26 games.

With the presence of two professional women’s hockey leagues in North America, girls and young women have access to more representation within the sport than in the past. Whether they aspire to play, coach or manage a team, or become a broadcaster, there has been an increase in hockey role models and this is crucial for growing the game.

While it’s great to start seeing the transition to a more inclusive sport, now is not the time to become complacent. This progression is still in its infancy and there’s still a lot of changes that need to be made. Not only does the game need to honour achievements of women in hockey’s past, but the present and future also need to be taken care of.

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