Her impact on hockey deep and far-reaching, Hayley Wickenheiser will be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame this year.
The 40-year-old from Shaunavon, Sask., is one of five players entering the hall May 26 during the world men’s championship in Bratislava, Slovakia.
American forward Mike Modano, Sweden’s Jorgen Jonsson and Slovak stars Zigmund Palffy and Miroslav Satan were also members of the 2019 induction class announced Wednesday by the IIHF.
The late Boris Alexandrov, a former Soviet national team player and coach of Kazakhstan, will be inducted as builder.
The IIHF is hustling Wickenheiser into its hall, given that she retired from playing just over two years ago on Jan. 13, 2017.
During her 23 years playing for Canada, she won four Olympic gold medals and seven world championships.
Wickenheiser is Canada’s all-time leading scorer with 168 goals and 211 assists in 276 games for Canada.
“I spent most of my life playing international hockey and have lived and played abroad, seeing many hockey cultures around the world,” Wickenheiser told The Canadian Press following the announcement.
“This is a great honour to be included in the International Hockey Hall of Fame. It represents the best the world of hockey has to offer.
“There was no better feeling than to play for Canada and travel the world doing so.”
She’s the fourth woman from the Canadian team to be inducted into the IIHF’s hall following teammates Danielle Goyette (2013) and Geraldine Heaney and Angela James (2008).
The IIHF’s Hall of Fame honour roll, which will now number 224 names, is housed in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Wickenheiser will be eligible for induction into that hall in 2020 after the mandatory three-year waiting period following retirement.
Wickenheiser was a star of female hockey when the emerging game desperately needed one, and pushed the envelope of what was possible for a female athlete.
There were no girls’ teams for her to play for in Calgary over three decades ago.
She tucked her hair up under her helmet and played on boys’ teams, where she wasn’t always welcomed by players or their parents.
Wickenheiser twice played men’s professional hockey in Europe to become the first female other than a goalie to do so.
Now a medical student at the University of Calgary, the Toronto Maple Leafs named Wickenheiser the club’s assistant director of player development last August.
During and after her playing career, Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies at the 2014 Winter Olympics has taken on roles as a caretaker of hockey and other sports.
The IIHF appointed Wickenheiser its lead player ambassador after the 2010 Winter Olympics, when international women’s hockey was under fire for not being competitive enough.
She’s travelled to India and North Korea since her retirement promoting and supporting girls in hockey.
Wickenheiser’s annual hockey festival Wickfest has attracted girls’ teams from across Canada and around the world for a decade.
She was elected to the International Olympic Committees athletes’ commission in 2014. Wickenheiser was also named by Canada’s sports minister to a working group on gender equity in sport last year.