Thursday, September 13, 2007

Wickenheiser to join Swedish men's hockey team.

Hayley Wickenheiser is going to be playing men's hockey again.

Niklas Johansson, the general manager of IFK Arboga, a Division 1 team in Sweden, said that the team is very close to signing Wickenheiser to a contract.

In 2003, Wickenheiser became the first woman skater to play men's professional hockey when she joined the Salamat in Finland. She scored 3 goals and 16 assists in 40 games while in Finland. During this time, Salamat moved up to the first division and she was demoted to the fourth line. This decreased ice time, along with missing her son and her boyfriend back home, led to her decision to leave Europe for Canada.

Hayley Wickenheiser is considered to be one of the best female hockey players in history. She scored 120 goals and 138 assists in 177 games with Team Canada, making her the all-time leading scorer on Canada's national team. She has donned the red and white in three winter Olympic games, where she helped the team win two gold medals and one silver medal. She was the MVP of the Torino Olympics (5-12-17 + broken wrist), as well as at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games and the 2007 World Championships.

I say good on her for venturing into men's pro hockey yet again. It is really nice to see women compete at the same level as men because it shows all the young girls out there that hockey is not just a boy's game.

I hope that she is wildly successful in Sweden and brings home all of the scoring titles and MVP awards. :)

UPDATE (18 Sept 07): TSN is now reporting that Wickenheiser and IFK Arboga are parting ways. Seems as though management was less than impressed with Wickenheiser's performance in a second exhibition game against a top team in the league, and they would prefer to go with the young guys instead of a woman.

As far as I'm concerned, this really sucks. I would really like to see girls play hockey at a higher level. As it currently stands, women's hockey is so far down the totem pole that it's in the ground, out of sight. Even the top women's hockey league in the world, the NWHL, seems to be on the verge of folding. We only seem to hear about women's hockey during the Olympics, or during the World Championships (sometimes). It would be nice to legitimize the sport and put it on somewhat equal ground with men's hockey....but that will never happen.

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