It's hard to find a hockey fan who doesn't know the name, Hayley Wickenheiser — especially in Canada. After years of defying the odds and dominating the women's world championships and the Olympics alike, "Wick" went from a kid playing on outdoor rinks in her hometown to one of the greatest hockey players of all time.
Now, she enters the Hockey Hall of Fame as someone who has revolutionized the game and advanced women's hockey along the way.
Growing up, the Shaunavon, Sask. native played mainly on boys' teams until she was 13. At just 15 years old, she joined Canada's National Women's Team and won her first international title in 1994 at the World Championship. Wickenheiser also won gold at the World Championship in 1997 and 1999; she was placed on both tournaments' All-Star teams and named the 1999 IIHF World Championship MVP.
Set to be the seventh woman to enter the hall of fame as a player, Wickenheiser's first significant stride made for the sport came in 1998. After leading Hockey Canada to a silver medal as the tournament MVP at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan — the first Olympics women's hockey competed in — she attended Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp later that year, and again in 1999.
Wickenheiser went on to represent Canada again at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she scored seven goals and 10 points in five games to lead the team to its first gold medal.
The following season she made history; after an Italian men's league denied her the opportunity to play due to her gender, Wickenheiser instead joined HC Salamat, a third-division men's team in Finland. With the club, she became the first woman to play professional hockey in a non-goaltending role (remember, Manon Rheaume?) on a men's team and registered 10 assists in 23 games. According to The Ice Garden, Wickenheiser led the team in faceoff percentage and became the first woman to record a point in a professional men's hockey game.
Hayley Wickenheiser celebrates her first point (& first point by woman) in pro men's league with Salamat teammates. pic.twitter.com/05jSqdUalE
— Jen (@NHLhistorygirl) March 8, 2016
Wickenheiser returned to North America for the 2004-05 season and joined the Western Women's Hockey League's Calgary Oval X-Treme. She impressed right away with a historic performance, posting 22 goals and 58 points in 18 games. In 51 career games with Calgary, she registered 68 goals and 155 points.
It seemed as if nothing could slow Wickenheiser down. She took home another Olympic gold medal in 2006 along with three more world championships with Canada and earned the team's captaincy in 2007. When the 2008-09 season rolled around, she went back overseas to play men's third division in Sweden with HC Linden, and she won an Olympic gold medal at the Vancouver games in 2010.
For 2010-11, Wickenheiser joined the University of Calgary's women's team that competed in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league. She chose to play there because of the Calgary Dinos' work ethic — they practiced every day — and because she was working toward her kinesiology degree. During Wickenheiser's freshman year with the team, she racked up 17 goals and 40 points in 15 games. She ended her college career in 2015 with 134 points in 68 CIS games — and won three more world championships with Canada in that time period.
At the 2014 Sochi Games, she not only led Canada to gold again, but she did so with a broken foot, telling reporters after the fact that her left foot had been broken "for about a year" and that it didn't hurt to skate on.
— U Calgary (@UCalgary) June 7, 2018
After graduating, Wickenheiser suited up for two more seasons of professional hockey, playing with the Canadian Women's Hockey League's Calgary Inferno. In 2015-16, she had 19 points in 15 games in her rookie year and led Canada to yet another world championship title.
On Jan. 13, 2017, she retired from professional hockey, finishing as Hockey Canada's all-time women's scoring leader with 168 goals and 211 assists in 276 games. Over the course of her career, she won a total of four Olympic gold medals, one silver medal and seven world championship titles with Canada.
When her on-ice career ended, Wickenheiser shifted her attention to medical school — which is where she was when the Hall tried to call her about her induction. But Wickenheiser hast not stepped away from the game entirely in retirement, joining the Toronto Maple Leafs front office as the assistant director of player development in 2018, becoming the first woman to hold the position in team history.
Auston Matthews is back on the ice ahead of #Leafs practice today. Darryl Belfry, Hayley Wickenheiser and therapist Jon Geller out there with him. Some shooting involved in today’s drills. pic.twitter.com/b7zZwUa8DN
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) November 5, 2018
On Feb. 6, she was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame, becoming just the ninth woman in history ever inducted. Now, on Nov. 18, she'll go down as a Hall of Famer yet again.