Finally, we are seeing issues such as equality and diversity being taken seriously by employers, sports leagues and in all walks of life. We all know that there is still a long way to go, but the moves to equality and diversity in sports is something that is long overdue.
Think about equality for a moment. The act of having equal status, equal rights and equal opportunities. While I do not profess to be an expert on civil rights or on diversity, I do know that when it comes to equality in hockey, the “old boys club” has reigned for far too long. I’ve long been a fan of women’s hockey and as a child was proud to have females on my teams, and not just in goal, but at all positions.
In my professional life, I’ve been a part of teams that had women in various leadership roles, and just like their male counterparts, some have been highly effective, others not as much. Having said that, it does not mean that women should not have the opportunity for roles in any business or organization. Frankly, in an ideal world, any role should go to the most qualified candidate. While March 8, 2021 was declared International Women’s Day, we don’t need a specific day to communicate the fact that women deserve equal rights and opportunity. Worldbank.org stated that as of 2019 there were 3.8 billion women on the planet, which translates to 49.58%. It stands to reason that the female persuasion is and should be participating in roles at all levels of organizations… and we are starting to see this in the game of hockey. However, as recent as late 2019, the Athletic reported that men hold 96% of the hockey operations jobs upon reviewing the 31 NHL teams. Still some ways to go… but we’re getting there. Here’s a look at how Sportsnet honored women in hockey as part of International Women’s Day in 2021.
25 Influential Women of Hockey
There are a lot of criteria that could be used to compile such a list of distinguished women in hockey. However, we wanted a diverse list of women who have had a positive impact on the game, now, in the past and moving toward the future. Some you will know; others may be new to you. It is with great respect and admiration that The Hockey Fanatic presents twenty-five of the most influential women in hockey.
#25. Blake Bolden – LA Kings AHL Scout and Inclusion Specialist. The first Black woman to be a pro scout with an NHL organization. She’s also the first Black woman to be selected in the first round of a CWHL draft and the first to play professional hockey in the NWHL. She uses her skills and knowledge to coach and mentor girls through Blake Bolden Athletics focusing on the mental aspects of the game. One more cool thing is that she developed the first-ever female line of hockey sticks in partnership with Verbano. With a motto of “Be Bold”, what’s not to like about Blake Bolden?
#24. Kendall Coyne Schofield – Team USA Captain, Chicago Blackhawks Player Development Coach and Youth Hockey Growth Specialist. Remember Kendall from the NHL all-star game a few years back? She is a 2X gold medalist at the U-18 Women’s World Hockey Championships, a 6X gold medalist at the Four Nations Cup and is inspiring girls across North America to get into the game of hockey. Visit http://www.kendallcoyne.com/ to learn more about Kendall.
#23. Sherry Ross – former New Jersey Devils Radio Analyst. Sherry was the NHL’s first full-time female radio analyst in 1990. Anytime you are a groundbreaker in a role traditionally dominated by men you have to be considered influential. Sherry is the first woman to serve as an analyst for the Stanley Cup Finals, and the first woman to call play-by-play for a full NHL game.
#22. Katie Guay – Referee. Katie was the first female referee to work Division I men’s hockey, and she also worked at the 2018 Olympics. Officiating any sport at any level is a tough job. Being a woman and trailblazer as an official is on another level.
#21. Tara Slone. Host of Sportsnet’s Top of [HER] Game and Rogers Hometown Hockey, Lead singer of Joydrop. In 2020, Slone was named host of a new weekly Sportsnet docuseries called Top of Her Game, which focuses on women’s rights through interviews with female athletes, builders and executives. She’s been a great supporter of women in all roles and of the NHL. She provides a great spin on Rogers Hometown Hockey with Ron MacLean.
#20. Hayley Moore – AHL Vice President of Hockey Operations. Moore is responsible for overseeing the league’s on-ice operations, including management of the AHL officiating program and the league’s disciplinary process. She has experience at every level of hockey and is also the current president of the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).
#19. Cassie Campbell-Pascall – Sportsnet Commentator. She was the first and at the time only woman to provide colour commentary on Hockey Night in Canada. She is one of the most decorated female hockey players of all-time with six IIHF Women’s World Championships, two Olympic gold medal and one silver. She was awarded the Order of Canada in 2012. She has strong knowledge of the game, and has made history as a regular Hocket Night in Canada analysts and broadcaster.
#18. Leah Hextall – Broadcaster. The first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NHL game in Canada. In 2019, she became the first woman to call an BCAA Men’s Hockey Championship for ESPN. She’s a great talent and is one of the most entertaining broadcasters in the hockey world. We need to see more of her.
#17. Christine Simpson – Sportsnet Broadcaster. One of the first and one of the best broadcasters in the business, Christine Simpson is a true professional. Previously a marketing manager for the Hockey Hall of Fame, Christine Simpson has carved out a nice broadcasting career for herself and is one of the most respected reporters in the game. She’s inspired girls all across Canada to pick up a microphone and become analysts, reporters and broadcasters. Her interviews are always informative, entertaining and delivered with a smile. SportsNet and Hockey Night in Canada knew a good thing when they saw it.
#16. Emily Castonguay – Player Agent and Momentum Hockey Director of Legal Affairs and Hockey Operations. Currently representing the 2020 number one NHL draft pick Alexis Lafreniere, Emily is a certified NHLPHA hockey agent.
#15. Cammi Granato – NHL scout Seattle Kraken. Cammi became one of the NHL’s first female pro scouts when she was hired by the expansion Seattle Kraken. One of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, the former captain of the US women’s hockey team is one of the most popular female players of all-time. She played with the US National team from 1990-2005 and was the all-time leading scorer upon her retirement.
#14. Jayna Hefford – PWHPA Operations Consultant. Hefford serves as the face of the PWHPA. The PWHPA’s objectives are to establish a single North American women’s pro league capable of paying a living wage and with a long-term sustainable economic model. This is an important step for the future of women’s hockey. Hefford a four-time Olympic champion shares her thoughts on the status of the women’s game (from 2019).
#13. Florence Schelling – SC Bern General Manager. The first female GM of a top-level professional men’s hockey team. The former goaltender has a Master’s in Business Administration is looking to revive the struggling SC Bern team with roster and management updates.
#12. Susie Mathieu – Former NHL Public Relations Direction, former VP of St. Louis Blues. Susie was the VP of Marketing and PR for the St. Louis Blues for 20 years from 1975-1995. One of the great lines about Susie as she was starting her career with the Blues in the mid-seventies was referenced in this USA Today article where a local reporter asked the Blues general manager Emile Francis “how he expected him to work with a woman”, to which Francis replied “If you can’t work with her, you can’t work with the St. Louis Blues.” Susie was later hired by the NHL and NHL Players’ Association to help run the World Cup of Hockey and consult on Olympic involvement with the NHL.
#11. Meghan Chayka – Stathletes Co-founder. Meghan’s famous quote of “I think it’s adapt or die at this point, honestly,” regarding the impact of analytics and technology. Using data to make informed decisions is something that I live by and leveraging data is something that Meghan and the team at Stathletes are extremely successful at. Not only is Meghan an analytics wiz and data scientist, but she has a keen interest in hockey and is a strong advocate for women’s hockey. Her efforts to provide analysis for women’s university hockey has led to a partnership with the National Women’s Hockey League. Active on social media, Meghan is definitely one of the leaders in sports technology and analytics. She’s proven to be very responsive on twitter and seems to be really down to earth. Meghan we would love to do an interview with you to see where you want to go with leveraging analytics in hockey. Meghan Chyka LinkedIn
#10. Kim Pegula – Buffalo Sabres Co-owner and President. The Sabres have a lot of questions around them. In recent years, it appears the franchise cannot catch a break. The Sabres misfortunes have thrust the Pegulas into the spotlight and many are waiting to see what the plans are to get this team to become relevant again. She has influence, how she will use it may well determine the direction the Sabres take.
#9. Ty Tumminia – NWHL Commissioner. Tumminia played a key role in expanding the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League. Tumminia took over in October 2020 as League founder Dani Rylan Kearney stepped down as commissioner. She looks to get the NWHL back on the ice and to continue to grow the game. She will be a key player in what happens next in the development and growth of the women’s game.
#8. Lindsay Artkin – NHL Coaches’ Association President. In our opinion, the world needs more female coaches. Lindsay Artkin is on a mission to accomplish just that, at least at the NHL level. She is working on getting women behind the bench by enlisting the help of NHL coaches as mentors. It wasn’t all that long ago that the NHLCA launched its Female Coaches Development Program to support the development of female hockey coaches across all levels of the game.
#7. Mannon Rheaume – former professional hockey goaltender and pioneer. We would be remiss as to not include Mannon on our list. She achieved a number of historic firsts during her career, including becoming the first woman to play in any of the major North American pro-sports when in 1992 she tried out for the Tampa Bay Lightning and played a period in an exhibition game against the St. Louis Blues. (She had an .888% save percentage in her appearance). Fun fact: Mannon appeared in the TV movie A Beachcomber’s Christmas with former Vancouver Canucks Tiger Williams and Jyrki Lumme. She played semi-pro hockey in the International Hockey League (IHL) with the Las Vegas Thunder, Atlanta Knights, Flint Generals and Port Huron Icehawks. She’s played in many of the top junior and minor pro leagues including the QMJHL, IHL, ECHL and with her pre-season appearance the NHL.
#6. Heidi Browning – Senior Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer National Hockey League. This is a job that many of us with marketing backgrounds would love. Heidi Browning is one of the best in the business of promoting the NHL and the game’s stars. She has used her talents to deliver a unique opportunity to offer fans a glimpse into the lives of NHL players with a series of Zoom chats and virtual player availabilities. With the pandemic, we were seeing inside players’ homes and hanging out with their kids and pets. Browning has helped putting a face and a personality to the stars we’ve only known through TV and YouTube clips.
#5. Alexandra Mandrycky – Director of Hockey Strategy and Research Seattle Kraken. This week, the Seattle Kraken paid their final installment of the expansion fee to the NHL, officially becoming the league’s 32nd team. One of the first hires of the franchise’s front office was Alexandra Mandrycky. Another person with a strong background in analytics and a move to combine data-driven decisions with the traditional hockey mind, look for the Kraken to be a leader in diversity and experience.
#4. Hayley Wickenheiser – Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant Director of Player Development, former team Canada superstar. We all know Hayley as the passionate leader of Team Canada’s women’s team having been a member of the team for 23 years from the mid-nineties until retiring in 2015. She represented Canada at the Olympics on five occasions winning gold on four occasion and silver one other time. Shaw has named the tournament MVP twice. One of the most passionate players to have ever played the game, who can forget her comments on The US team after defeating them to take gold in the 2002 winter Olympics. If this doesn’t get you pumped up nothing will.
In 26 Olympic games for Canada, Wickenheiser put up 51 points. She was the first woman to play full-time professional hockey in a position other than goalie. In fact, in 2003, Haley Wickenheiser became the first woman to score a goal playing in a men’s semi-professional league (for HC Salamat in Finland’s third-division league). Elected to the Hockey Hall of Famer in her first year of eligibility in 2019, Wickenheiser is one of the all-time great players and advocates of women’s hockey.
#3. Kim Davis – Senior Executive VP, Social Growth, Growth Initiatives, National Hockey League. Kim Davis has been recognized by Hockey News’ 2019 Top 100 Most Influential Leaders in the sports but the accolades are many as she has been named to The Business Journal’s 100 Most Influential Women and Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. In 2012, she was profiled with First Lady Michelle Obama in Essence magazine’s “28 Most Influential Black Women in America. To learn more check out her LinkedIn profile.
#2. Angela James – former Team Canada defense-woman and pioneer of the game. The first superstar of modern women’s hockey. Angela broke gender and racial barriers and helped inspire other women and Black players to get into the game. In 1984-85 while playing at Seneca College, James amassed 73 points in 14 games including 50 goals that season. Elected to the Hockey Hall of fame in 2010, she was also one of the first three women inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
Angela James was referred to as the Wayne Gretzky of Women’s hockey, but she could also be known as the “Mark Messier of Women’s hockey with her strong aggressive play. In 1990 at the Women’s World Championships, Angela James tallied eleven goals and thirteen points in five games helping Canada win gold in the first sanctioned IIHF international tournament in women’s ice hockey.
#1. Hockey Moms – who else does more for kids other than hockey moms? They drive the kids to work, they feed them, they support them, they get their skates sharpened, wash their gear, they listen and ultimately do what it takes to support the hockey stars of the future. Many times, hockey moms are also team mangers, they arrange fundraisers, they volunteer for tournaments and they do whatever it takes. There are some great sites dedicated to hockey moms, one of our favourites is https://www.canadianhockeymoms.ca/. The site features a lot of great content including:
Tips (such as equipment fitting and more
You can follow Canadian Hockey Moms on twitter at @hockeymomcanada.
Well, there you have it, our list of important females in hockey in 2021. Think we missed someone off of the list? Drop us a line or reach out on twitter and we will look at adding them to a future update to this topic.
We think it is great, and long overdue, with having some many great women involved in hockey at all levels and in all roles. It feels that we are making strides towards equality in this respect and we cannot wait to see when women’s hockey is on the same level of men’s hockey when it comes to on-ice play, performance and equal opportunity in the sport.
The Hockey Fanatic is looking for guest bloggers to blog about women in hockey. While female contributors are preferred, please reach out to us if you are interested in contributing posts to The Hockey Fanatic.