Haley Wickenheiser is a lot of things–five-time Olympic medalist, businesswoman, advocate–and, as of July 17, 2015, she’s also CWHL draft eligible.
“I look forward to the competition,” Wickenheiser said in a press release. “It will be a fun and competitive league. It is a great show for the fans to see national players play more than every four years.”
Wickenheiser is a big get for the CWHL, which will face potential competition with the newly-formed NWHL next season. A player of Wickenheiser’s caliber–and status–would garner excitement in a any league, and the CWHL is no exception.
“Getting a player like Wick is huge,” said Chantal Champagne, the General Manager of the Calgary Inferno. “For us it’s like Bobby Hull joining the WHA, or Wayne Gretzky being traded to L.A. It’s a game changer.”
Of course, Bobby Hull was paid $1 million up front to sign with the WHA. And while at a certain point reminding everyone that players don’t get paid in the CWHL is just beating a very dead horse, there’s no denying that the women’s hockey climate this summer has had an edge to it. Brittany Ott, former goaltender for the CWHL’s Boston Blades, left to sign with the Boston Pride, as did Blake Bolden and Jillian Dempsey (the CWHL’S 2014 Rookie of the Year).
So Wickenheiser going to the CWHL is huge, and not just because of her incredible skill as a player.
Said CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress: “Today’s announcement is a testament to the success of our league. For Hayley to choose the CWHL as the next step in her hockey career reflects the high caliber competition that defines us. This is an exciting opportunity for the league to showcase one of the greatest players this sport has seen.”
And she won’t be alone. Team Canada’s Marie-Philip Poulin, unarguably one of the best hockey players in the game, also registered for the 2015 CWHL Draft, aiming to play for the Montreal Stars. Also hoping to play for Calgary is Brianne Jenner.
A press release from the league noted the potent potential combo of Jenner and Wickenheiser on the same team. The Inferno finished second in the league last season, and padding their roster with this kind of elite talent bodes well for their chances at a Clarkson Cup:
“The possible addition of Wickenheiser and her Team Canada teammate Brianne Jenner, who announced her draft plans last week, to a roster that includes last years leading scorer Rebecca Johnston would give the Inferno the potential for one of the most dynamic offensive teams in league history.”
It’s going to be fun to watch.