She’s already got a page in the Canadian Encyclopedia.
Starting tonight, Hayley Wickenheiser now has a plaque in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Wickenheiser becomes the fourth female former player ever to be inducted, joining American Cammie Granato and Canadians Angela James and Geraldine Heaney.
She is also the only woman in this year’s class of five inductees.
Nothing new for Wickenheiser.
She’s seen the movie before.
She did, after all, play men’s professional hockey in Finland. setting new standards on how much a woman can be pushed physically.
But she’d already learned the physical stuff when she was a kid, growing up playing with the boys on the prairies, sometimes tucking her hair under her helmet to avoid being told to take a hike.
In 1994 Wickenheiser began playing for Team Canada at the age of 15.
In between, she was part of teams–usually as the leader–that won four Olympic Gold Medals and seven World Championships.
And–in no small measure thanks to Wickenheiser–a lot of things changed for the better for girls wanting to play hockey.
“The greatest stride’s been made in the acceptance of girls playing the game,” Wickenheiser told CPS Donna Spencer in 2017.
“Any little girl in this country can walk into a hockey rink and no one is going to think twice or look twice. There’s female hockey change rooms in a lot of rinks now.”
Not bad for someone raising a family and–in recent years–going to medical school, never mind creating and running a tournament officially known as the Wickenheiser Female World Hockey Festival, better known simply as WickFest.
CBC sports journalist Andie Bennett has followed Wickenheiser for a long time, and, like many others, has been moved by Wickenheiser’s accomplishments on and off the ice.
I spoke by phone with Bennett on Monday at her home in Montreal.