The powers at the top of the hockey world are slowly aging and fading out, and yet the landscape continues to look ever so similar.
Legendary former bench boss Scotty Bowman had to give up his seat on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s selection committee after his 15-year term limit ran out, replaced on Tuesday by former NHL coach and longtime broadcaster Pierre McGuire. The current NBC analyst will join a 19-member panel — consisting of former players, league and team executives, and prominent journalists — whose main responsibility is to select each year’s inductees from a group of hundreds of eligible players.
When sifting through the names on the committee, it’s obvious there is a vast array of hockey experience across many different levels and roles. A panel diverse in background and the paths they took to get there, but, another thing is painfully obvious: It’s made up of a whole bunch of dudes.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with most dudes, or most white dudes. Or most old white dudes. Hell, I’m going to be an old white dude one day. But this panel is straight up all guys. 100 percent male. For a league so often preaching inclusion and diversity but rarely delivering any meaningful action, putting a worthy, influential woman on the committee is a very small but important step in showing your league is, in fact, in tune with the current social climate.
While this is a no-brainer, it’s not at all surprising that the NHL — the same league that still hasn’t inducted it’s first black player into the HOF — would drop the ball on this one.
Women have been eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame since 2010 and there’s currently five females — Cammi Granato, Angela James, Geraldine Heaney, Angela Ruggiero, and Danielle Goyette — enshrined. As Olympic hockey legends from Canada’s and USA’s powerhouse women’s programs continue to retire, age, and become eligible for induction, who better to have a voice on those candidates than the women who trail-blazed their way through the sport before them.
Here are a few influential icons that should have their say on the committee at some point in the not-so-distant future.
Arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time should be the sixth women inducted into the Hall of Fame this year, assuming her mandatory waiting period is waived as it was for the GOAT of men’s hockey after Wayne Gretzky’s retirement in 1999.
Wickenheiser has four Olympic gold medals, seven World Championship golds, and a Clarkson Cup title. She was the first woman skater to play professional men’s hockey and she’s the leading all-time scorer for the greatest powerhouse in women’s hockey history — Team Canada. She was named top women’s player at the 2002 Olympics, is a CIS MVP, and one of a handful of players to have a dramatic and positive effect on the growth and popularity of women’s hockey not only in Canada, but in fledgling hockey nations such as Sweden, Finland and Russia.
Granato was the first women ever inducted into the HOF, enshrined in 2010 after cementing her spot as the greatest American women’s player ever. Named captain for Team USA in the first Olympics to feature Women’s hockey in 1998, Granato and her teammates upset Canada in the decider to claim the event’s first ever gold medal.
She was invited to attend a New York Islanders’ training camp, but eventually declined the invite and chose to hop on the Los Angeles Kings’ broadcast team. She then decided to resume her playing career in time for the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. For the second Games in a row, Granato captained Team USA, but came up just short on home ice and took home a silver medal after a heartbreaking loss against the Canadians. With 54 goals and 94 points in 54 games, she’s the all-time leading scorer in women’s international hockey.
Both a Canadian and international hockey icon, Cassie Campbell-Pascall has had a major impact on the game as both a player and in the media. She won six World Championship gold medals with Canada and captained her country at both the 2002 and 2006 Winter Games, winning Olympic gold in Salt Lake City.
Campbell-Pascall became the first women’s hockey player ever inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, and she received the Order of Hockey in Canada the same year. In 2014, she was presented with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Humanitarian of the Year by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Since her retirement, Campbell-Pascall has been a staple on Olympic broadcasts and has also seen plenty of on-air time with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
Let’s figure this out the next time a HHOH selection committee spot is up for grabs, ok hockey?