With the upcoming 2018 Winter Games symbolizing the 20th Anniversary of Nagano, and the first women’s ice hockey tournament contested at the Games, one of the superstars from that formative era is reaching an unprecedented level of relevance and praise. Having first honed her skills in St. Nazaire, Quebec, Danielle Goyette has earned recognition as more than a builder of the game, but among its immortals.
Such a transition to immortality involves the prestige of a postage stamp, the first Canadian women’s ice hockey player to receive the honor. Considering the Canada Post has issued many popular annual releases of NHL heroes and legends, the inclusion of Goyette on a stamp may certainly stimulate the long overdue need for an exclusive set of stamps adorned by the women of hockey.
Worth noting, Goyette is among a group of six athletes that are part of Canada Post’s Women in Winter Sports collection, definitely helping to set an empowering tone with the onset of the Winter Games on February 9, 2018. Along with Goyette, whose left-handed shot, with the number 15 adorning the back of her jersey, is prominently featured in the design, the list of athletes gaining the postage stamp treament includes Sharon and Shirley Firth, who participated in four Winter Games in cross-country skiing.
Sonja Gaudet, a wheelchair curler and ambassador for the Rick Hansen Foundation, plus Nancy Greene, recognized as Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century, capturing a gold medal at the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble, France, and Clara Hughes, the only Canadian athlete, male or female, to win medals in both the Summer and Winter Games comprise the other athletes depicted. The creative aspect of this collection is attributed to designers Roy White, Matthew Clark and Jacquie Shaw from Subplot Design Inc. of Vancouver.
Through the last two decades, players such as Hayley Wickenheiser, Cassie Campbell and Jayna Hefford, followed by Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin and Natalie Spooner, among others, would become household names. To a degree, Goyette was possibly the game’s forgotten superstar, one of its most underrated and perhaps underappreciated luminaries. At the 2007 IIHF Women’s World Championships in Winnipeg, a 41-year old Goyette captured her eighth gold medal, a tournament record which was testament to her resiliency.
Quietly but admirably going about her duties, employing an ethereal serenity and quiet demeanor, Goyette carved a legacy in the game that few can compare. In 15 years with Canada’s national women’s team, her 114 goals rank third all-time, trailing just Hefford and Wickenheiser. Other top five finishes in team history include fourth in points (219), while her 105 assists place her fifth all-time.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that she ranks second all-time in goals scored in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Games. Goyette would lead all Canadians in scoring at Nagano 1998, while tying for first at Salt Lake 2002, which resulted in Canada’s first-ever gold in women’s ice hockey.
Debuting with the national team at the age of 25, Goyette would score the gold-medal clinching goals at the 1992, 1994 and 1999 IIHF Women’s Worlds. Coincidentally, fellow Quebec resident Nancy Drolet would score the golden goals at the Worlds in 1997 and 2000, marking five straight Worlds where a player from Quebec provided such lauded heroics.
A generation later, such heroics were mirrored by another pair of French-Canadian phenomenons. Montreal’s Caroline Ouellette, who also ranks in the top five in all-time scoring for the national team, scored the gold-medal goal in Burlington, Vermont, as Canada defeated the US at the 2012 IIHF Women’s Worlds. In addition, Marie-Philip Poulin scored the golden goals at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games. Serendipitously, Goyette was on the coaching staff of the national team from 2012-14, as dynasty met destiny on those glorious occasions.
For the highly accomplished Goyette, even her transition to the coaching level brought with it tremendous acclaim. In addition to leading the University of Calgary Dinos back into USPORTS competition, highlighted by the Golden Path Trophy in 2012, the list of world-class players she has coached is remarkable. Such a sensational list includes future Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser, Russian national team members Iya Gavrilova and Alexandra Vafina, Heather Berzins, who would go on to compete with Canada at the 2017 ISBHF Women’s Worlds, future Clarkson Cup champion and CWHL Rookie of the Year Elana Lovell, along with notable goaltender Amanda Tapp, to name a few.
Adding to a growing coaching legacy was the fact that Goyette would become the first alum of the national women’s team to serve as a coach in the Winter Games. Working alongside Lisa Haley, they served on the coaching staff of Dan Church, and eventually Kevin Dineen, as Goyette became the first member of Canada’s women’s hockey program to capture a gold medal as both a player (2002, 2006) and coach (2010). Adding sheen to such a Winter Games legacy is the fact that Goyette was also Canada’s flag bearer for the Opening Ceremonies at Torino 2006.
Such achievements would take on grander meaning for Goyette in the 2017-18 season. During the week of January 21, 2018, Goyette would become the recipient of three amazing honors. On the Monday, the University of Calgary set a very empowering tone to the week to unfold.
With the introduction of the Danielle Goyette women’s hockey scholarship, an annual amount of $2,017 each that shall be provided for two student-athletes in the program. The reason for the dollar amount is a tribute to the fact that Goyette was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017, becoming the first female competitor from Quebec to gain the honor.
As a side note, Goyette was part of a Hockey Hall of Fame class which included five other honored individuals. Jeremy Jacobs, the proprietor of the Boston Bruins was recognized in the Builder’s Category, while Stanley Cup champions Mark Recchi and Dave Andreychuk plus the first two marquee players in the history of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne joined Goyette into the Hall. Coincidentally, Recchi also competed for Canada at the 1998 Nagano Games.
The following day, Canada Post issued a release regarding their Women in Winter Sports collection, propelling Goyette into popular culture. Considering that every Canadian stamp every issued is on permanent displayed at Canada’s Museum of Civilization in Gatineau, Quebec, it provides Goyette the special opportunity to gain a degree of immortality in her home province.
On the same day, Goyette earned another distinguished honor, once again emphasizing the theme of immortality and achievement. Joining Stanley Cup winning coach Mike Babcock and former Edmonton Oilers captain Ryan Smyth as the newest members of the Order of Hockey in Canada, Goyette becomes the fifth woman to have this recognition bestowed upon her.
The other female recipients of the Order include Cassie Campbell (2012), France St. Louis (2014), Geraldine Heaney (2016) and Fran Rider (2017). With a formal ceremony to be held in June 2018 in London, Ontario, Goyette, Babcock and Smyth comprise a group of 24 overall recipients.
Photo credits: Riley Brandt, University of Calgary, Bruce Bennett, Getty Images, The Canadian Press, Hockey Canada Images