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Women’s Hockey Wednesday: All eyes on women’s hockey

Jayna Hefford joins the Hockey Hall of Fame, Shannon Miller joins the Inferno, Robb Stauber loses fans and the Damkronorna lose funding.

Jayna Hefford #16 scores the game winning goal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City to win Canada its first gold medal in women’s hockey.
Jayna Hefford #16 scores the game winning goal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City to win Canada its first gold medal in women’s hockey.
Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

It was a banner week for women’s hockey news. Some good --Jayna Hefford joining the 2018 Hall of Fame class and Shannon Miller becoming head coach of the Calgary Inferno -- and some not so good -- the Swedish National Team losing their funding and Robb Stauber (who may be the ex-coach of the USWNT?) speaking at a Trump rally.

Jayna Hefford

Brampton Thunder legend Jayna Hefford gets the call - Pension Plan Puppets

Thunder Legend Jayna Hefford Member of HHOF Class of 2018 - Markham Thunder

Jayna Hefford inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame - The Ice Garden

She should have been in last year and with the backlog of players yet to be honoured, she shouldn’t be going in as the lone woman, but she’s going in. Despite some mainstream media types insisting that Hayley Wickenheiser was “a lock” for a spot this year, once again the Hall declined to lift their ban on putting players in early. Instead we got Hefford, a powerhouse player who well deserves the honour.

Here are some of the twitter reactions:

And of course Hefford does not enter the Hall alone. It was announced that Willie O’Ree will finally enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in November as a builder. As former CWHL, NWHL and current SWHL player Blake Bolden reminds us, he continues to be an inspiration to Black players of all genders.

Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller to lead CWHL’s Calgary Inferno | Montreal Gazette

Former Bulldogs coach Shannon Miller back behind the bench in CWHL | Duluth News Tribune

In a move that surprised everyone, the Calgary Inferno announced on Saturday that Tomas Pacina had chosen not to return for the 2018-19 season and instead they had hired one of the most well-known coaches in women’s hockey.

Shannon Miller is best known by Americans for her many successful years coaching NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (not to mention her firing and subsequent lengthy, if ultimately successful, lawsuit). However she also claims a place in history as Canada’s first Olympic women’s hockey coach.

This is a power move by GM Kristen Hagg. Because Calgary is the home base for Hockey Canada, they traditionally have the most Canadian Olympians on their team to begin with. Now with a coach of Miller’s savvy and connections, they look to be the team to beat next season.

With Digit Murphy having been relieved of her coaching duties with KRS and the Boston Blades still looking for a new head coach, Miller currently stands as the only female head coach in the league.

Damkronorna

Efter fiaskot – Damkronorna tappar OS-stöd

After finally getting rid of problematic coach Leif Boork, the Swedish women’s national team (the Damkronorna) have another obstacle to overcome in their push to return to their pre-Boork form — the Swedish Olympic Committee has pulled their funding due to lack of results.

This isn’t entirely an unusual tactic - no Olympic committee has entirely unlimited funds and they all use specific criteria to determine who does and does not get funding. However considering that multiple Swedish players had expressed concerns about Boork to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association long before the 2018 Olympics, it seems punitive to remove funding after what the players suggested was not working, did not work.

Our only source right now is in Swedish - keep an eye on The Ice Garden for further details in English from Meredith Foster.

Robb Stauber

Robb Stauber speaks at political rally in Duluth - The Ice Garden

There’s plenty of Trumpism around hockey and women’s hockey is not immune. Hilary Knight went to visit her grandmother instead of visiting the White House with her teammates, but she was the only vocal holdout. Several members of the USWNT are known Trump supporters. Robb Stauber speaking at a Trump rally was farther than most dare to go, and a step farther than a number of fans were willing to tolerate.

Despite the growth of women’s hockey in the States, the women’s national team still tends to come from a background of material and racial privilege. Stauber isn’t so much the cause of this as a particularly ugly symptom of tendencies within USA Hockey.

The timing was also interesting — as we mentioned in last week’s WHW, Stauber and his wife Shivaun were originally announced as co-coaches of the Minnesota Whitecaps for their inaugural season in the NWHL. However the weekend prior to the rally questions were raised as to whether the Whitecaps had actually signed a coach after all. Beyond that, there were rumours on social media that Stauber was no longer a coach with the USWNT.

These are interesting times for women’s hockey. We’ll see what else develops as the offseason continues.

International hockey

Inside China’s plan to dominate women’s hockey by the 2022 Olympic Games - SBNation.com
Kunlun Red Star has its sights set on an ambitious goal.

Lamoureux twins talk fight for gender equality in ice hockey
Women’s ice hockey players Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando are working hard to ensure gender equality in ice hockey.

USA Hockey Nominated For Multiple ESPY Awards
USA Women’s National Team and Jocelyne Lamoureux up for awards

Megan Keller achieves goal she set when 10; displays Olympic hockey gold medal | PennLive.com
She set a goal when she was 10 while watching the Olympics with her father Greg to one day play in them

Olympic women’s hockey champ A.J. Mleczko enters Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame – New Canaan Advertiser
New Canaan’s A.J. Mleczko Griswold, an Olympic gold medalist in women’s ice hockey, will be inducted into the Fairfield County Sports Hall of Fame

CWHL

The CWHL needs to be transparent about suspensions - The Ice Garden
There are some good points in this piece by Mike Murphy, particularly around the lack of a public response to calls for the hit on Kosta to be revisited. Note that although the CWHL would not confirm suspensions to Murphy via e-mail, writers in attendance at CWHL games were informed of the suspensions at the time

20 Questions with Sami Jo Small: On vulgar chants, optometry and the Toronto Furies – The Athletic
Sami Joe Small was named GM of the CWHL’s Toronto Furies earlier this month and she has ambitious plans for the team both on and off the ice.

Rink Ink: Q&A with Carolyne Prevost - The Ice Garden
Carolyne Prevost of the Toronto Furies talks about her sole tattoo.

NWHL

2018 NWHL Free Agency Tracker - The Ice Garden
Your convenient one-stop shop for all the NWHL signing news. Since the last WHW, the Boston Pride have their first signing of the off-season, and the Beauts and Riveters have added a few more.

NWHL Notebook: Recent Signings
The NWHL adds eight more players for its upcoming fourth season, including a pair of Olympians for the Minnesota Whitecaps. Some pre-season games have been scheduled.

Katie Burt believes the NWHL is the best place for her - The Ice Garden
Burt wants to make the U.S. women’s national team and feels that the NWHL is her best way to get there

Buffalo’s offense already looks stacked - The Ice Garden
The Beauts will be a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone

NCAA

Matt Wellens column: NCAA OT proposal a step back in time | Duluth News Tribune
I was on the phone with Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming NHL Draft, but while I had him on the line, I figured I’d ask the Bulldogs sophomore-to-be his thoughts on the proposed new overtime structure in college hockey.

European club hockey

SWHL (Switzerland) Ladies Lugano have a new coach - Steve Huard - swisshockeynews.ch
After the Ladies Lugano cut ties with former head coach Iris Müller last week, RSI reports that they have signed a successor, namely Steve Huard.