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Canadian women’s hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser will enter the CWHL draft in August with the “intention” of playing for the Calgary Inferno.
Wickenheiser, 36, is a four-time Olympic gold medalist with Team Canada and one of – if not the – greatest women’s hockey players in history.
“I look forward to the competition and to playing with, and in some cases against, some of my national teammates,” said Wickenheiser in a statement Tuesday. “It will be a fun and competitive league. It is a great show for the fans to see national players play more than every four years.”
Said Inferno GM Chantal Champagne:
“Getting a player like Wick(enheiser) is huge; for us it’s like Bobby Hull joining the WHA, or Wayne Gretzky being traded to LA. It’s a game changer. Players like that are one of a kind and it’s huge, not just for us but for the entire league. It proves that the CWHL is the league to play in.”
OK, those are lofty comparisons for anyone, but it’s a big deal.
In recent months the league has received some publicity for its financial struggles. Not that Wickenheiser’s arrival in Calgary will change this, but it certainly does add name value. In 2013 finished her kinesiology degree from the University of Calgary.
It's also important for the CWHL thanks to the competing NWHL. Via the Canadian Press:
Wickenheiser’s decision to play for the Inferno is a marketing coup for the CWHL that now faces recruiting competition from the U.S.-based NWHL scheduled to start playing this fall.
Does this suddenly make Calgary a possibility for the Clarkson Cup? The release said Wickenheiser’s goal is to add this to her already incredible resume.
The Boston Blades are the defending champion, beating the Montreal Stars in OT of last year's contest. And behold the wonder of hockey players eating pizza with the Cup. It would be fun to watch her play Hilary Knight and the rest of the Blades for a title. Quasi US/Canada re-match perhaps?
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