Honoured Member Hayley Wickenheiser Joins Toronto Maple Leafs
Article from CBC written by The Canadian Press: Hayley Wickenheiser joins Maple Leafs as player development assistant director
4-time Olympic champion, born in Saskatchewan, retired as a player last year.
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas wasn't specifically looking to add a woman to Toronto's front office.
Hayley Wickenheiser was simply the best fit.
One of the top players in women's hockey history, Wickenheiser was named the club's new assistant director of player development Thursday.
The four-time Olympic gold medallist will monitor Leafs prospects in the WHL, and is expected to travel to Toronto a couple times a month to work with players on both the Leafs and the AHL's Marlies.
"The biggest reason why I was intrigued about this role is that Kyle was interested in me — not to hire a woman, but to hire someone who could do the job," Wickenheiser said on a conference call. "I feel pretty confident in my abilities to be in this role and that I belong and can handle myself with anyone."
The 40-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask., retired as a player in 2017, finishing as the career leading scorer for the Canadian women's national team with 168 goals and 211 assists for 379 points in 276 games.
"I know how those guys think, how they approach the game, day in and day out," she said. "I can help players get better and understand what it takes to get better.
"Every time you step on the ice, whether it's with a player or a coach, you can always learn something or take something."
Wickenheiser, who will continue studying medicine at the University of Calgary, said it was important for her to get back into a sport where she's helped blaze a trail for women and girls.
"I love being around people that are the best at what they do," she said. "To work for the Toronto Maple Leafs is a pretty huge honour, and it's a big responsibility.
"I understand well what pressure is in playing for Canada on the world stage. Hopefully some of those experiences I've that had can help some of these players."
Wickenheiser, the MVP of women's tournament at both the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, attended the Leafs' development camp as a guest coach in June.
"When we go through any process of hiring people to add to our program, we're looking for the best people. Period," Dubas said. "Hayley was certainly the best person to fill that role because of her expertise in hockey, her experience of being an elite player at every level.
"Getting to know her and talking to her, I just thought the way that Hayley thinks about hockey and life could be a massive benefit to our player development program, but also our program in general."
The Leafs also announced Scott Pellerin has been elevated to senior director of player development and that Stephane Robidas will serve as director of player development, while Noelle Needham and Victor Carneiro have been brought onboard as amateur scouts.
Dubas said adding more diversity to the Leafs — the team already employs former Olympian Barbara Underhill as a power skating coach — with hires like Wickenheiser and Needham can only help the franchise reach its ultimate goal.
"Research shows that the more diverse your organization, the better your decision making, the better your operation in general," he said. "If you're only hiring white males, and I'm saying that as a white male, you're probably leaving a lot on the table in terms of where your organization can go and how it can think and how it can evolve and develop.
"We're looking for the best candidates and we're not pushing anybody aside. I think sports in general are moving well in that direction."
While a woman has yet to step behind an NHL bench, Becky Harmon has been an assistant coach with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs since 2014, while Kathryn Smith became the NFL's first full-time female assistant during the 2016 season with the Buffalo Bills. The NFL and NBA also employ female officials.
Wickenheiser said that although she realizes the new gig is another step for women in hockey, and sports in general, her focus is more on doing the job properly than thinking about what it means.
"It's about being competent and being good at what you do," she said. "I also understand that there will be a lot of young girls that will see this as knocking down barriers for them to maybe dream to do the same thing.
"It does show forward-thinking, it shows young girls that they can really do anything, but at the same time there's a competency and a performance standard."
2018 Summer Artefacts Newsletter
Catch up on what's new with the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in the Artefacts Newsletter!
Feature Exhibit: The Games We Play
Written By Breanna Suk, Collections and Exhibit Coordinator, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum
In February, we launched our new feature exhibit “The Games We Play,” which is filled with traditional table top games, some indigenous hand games, and several video game consoles.
The feedback we received from friends, volunteers, and guests has been overwhelmingly positive, however we are often asked, ‘How do games, especially video games, tie into sports?’ I love this question because it allows me to share why this exhibit means so much to me and why I was so excited to do the research, write the storyline, and watch the whole exhibit come together.
I grew up in a house where we played family games more than sports, so these were my very first introductions to sports. I vividly remember sitting on the floor playing crokinole with my grandpa while he visited from Ontario. I remember the strange phantom pain I felt in my fingertips when the game piece hit the pegs, even though my fingers were nowhere near the board. Later, while watching the Ferby Four curl on TV with my dad, I made the connection between the sport of curling and the crokinole game.
I have similar memories of video games. I can remember being 5 or 6 and watching my brother play NHL ‘95. He took the time to explain to me who all the different players and teams were and his choices. It is the first real memory I have that is attached to hockey, which is now one of my favourite sports to watch and follow. These childhood memories give a broader appreciation for how these games allow us, as children and fans, to interact with the teams and players we love. Now married, I spend many nights curled up with my husband as he plays NHL ‘18 and MLB Showtime.
When I started planning this exhibit, I was very nervous. While I love creating exhibits highlighting
technology and equipment evolution, I was even more excited to make something that would prompt my generation and younger to
remember their first sports video games. While “The Games We Play” might not be what you expect in a sports museum, this exhibit will show exactly how games and sports belong together.
ASHFM featured on CBC TV's Our Edmonton: The Attractions Edition
Check out the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum airing on CBC TV's Our Edmonton: The Attractions Edition. This special episode showcases 32 festivals, tourist attractions, and hot spots in the capital region. Use this episode to map out your summer adventures!
Watch on CBC TV:
Saturday at 10 a.m.
Sunday at 1 p.m.
Monday at 11 a.m.
Honoured Member Wickenheiser named to 2026 Calgary Board
Decorated athletes Hayley Wickenheiser and Catriona Le May Doan were among the first named to the board of directors for Calgary 2026.
The bid corporation established earlier this month is taking over the work of analyzing and building Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Fifteen of the board members that will join chair Scott Hutcheson were announced Wednesday, with another five still to be appointed.
International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound and Indigenous lawyer Wilton Littlechild were also among those named to the board.
Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medallist in hockey, was appointed vice-chair. Le May Doan is a two-time gold medallist in speedskating.
"The board is made up of some of the most senior professionals and influential people who have a keen understanding of the sport community and our orders of government," Hutcheson said Wednesday in a statement.
"We will quickly establish a strong working relationship, and develop a culture of healthy, open and productive dialogue that will lead to informed decision making."
The board has representation from the city and provincial and federal governments, as well as the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Town of Canmore and the Indigenous communities.
Pound, president Tricia Smith and chief executive officer Chris Overholt are the COC representatives. Marc-Andre Fabien was the CPC’s appointee.
City manager Jeff Fielding, entrepreneur Manjit Minhas who appears on CBC’s Dragon’s Den and Deloitte executive Chris Lee represent Calgary.
Chief administrator officer Lisa de Soto represents the Town of Canmore, where the nordic centre is located.
Metis lawyer Jude Daniels is an at-large member who has worked in the oil and gas sector.
The province of Alberta’s board members are deputy minister of culture and tourism Meryl Whittaker, deputy minister of operations Ray Gilmour and managing director of communications and public engagement Corey Hogan.