One of the most legendary women to ever play the game of hockey is still breaking new ground, as today Hayley Wickenheiser was hired as the Assistant Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wickenheiser was a guest coach earlier in the summer at the Maple Leafs rookie development camp, and had told reporters that she had discussed a potential role with the team going forward. The Maple Leafs also announced that Scott Pellerin has been promoted to Senior Director of Player Development, and Stephane Robidas to Director of Player Development. Victor Cameiro and Noelle Needham have also both been added as amateur scouts.
Wickenheiser of course is one of the very best to ever play women’s hockey, winning four Olympic gold medals, seven World Championship gold medals, a CWHL Championship, three WWHL Championships and seven more various silver medals in international competition. She famously played in several men’s leagues in Europe for a time, and even won a CIS Championship with the University of Calgary late in her career, while returning to continue her education. There is very little that Wickenheiser hasn’t done in the game of hockey, and will now join a small but growing group of women with full-time hockey operations roles in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs have an advantage over many teams in the NHL given their financial might, but since the salary cap was instituted cannot use their full strength to buy players on the ice. Instead, sinking money into high profile executives and development systems is the way the team will continue to find an advantage, and perhaps build a contender for the Stanley Cup.