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Women in Ice Hockey – Greater Impact Across the NHL Than One Might Think

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Ice hockey can often be considered a man’s sport. Of course, this is perhaps due to the contact that can be made in the game when on the ice, as well as the fact that we often only ever really hear and see men’s hockey being broadcast globally.

However, that could not be further from the truth, as there are numerous women who have had an indelible mark on the game. The NHL is one hockey league to have experienced this throughout history, with the premier sporting competition having had its female influences in the past.

As a result, there is some suggestion that the sport has managed to grow significantly among female fans. We have seen more girls take to the ice and start participating in the game, while there are many who have looked to enhance their passion for the sport through other activities, including using available odds to place a bet or to host viewing parties for events like the Stanley Cup finals.

Which women have played in the NHL?

When thinking about women who have actually played in the NHL and competed on a team, it can be more difficult to see their impact. However, there has been one example that will have inspired a whole generation of females to take up the sport because they did exactly that.

Manon Rheaume is the one female to have actually ever been on the ice for a team, although her appearance was in a preseason game. She played for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 as their goaltender against the St. Louis Blues and remains the only woman to have been able to lace up her skates and appear in the competition.

We could see history be created as soon as this year (2023), though, as teams could be prepared to give other female goaltenders the opportunity to play if they require an emergency backup. Clubs could look at this as a viable option to keep things as professional as possible, as they would have a stand-in who would be trained to play hockey rather than a player who plays part-time and is not of a high level.

Which women have had an influence across the NHL?

Elsewhere, women have been highly influential across the NHL in non-playing roles, with many having held roles in power. 

There have been some that have been in the top office in executive roles for many clubs, with women including Marguerite Norris. She was the president of the Detroit Red Wings from the age of 25 for three years. During that time, she oversaw two Stanley Cup wins in 1954 and 1955. She is one of seven women to have their name on the prestigious trophy, with Marian Ilitch, Denise Ilitch, and Carole Ilitch Trepack having all helped the Red Wings to win in 1997 and 1998.

Sonia Scurfield got her name etched in 1989 as the co-owner of the Calgary Flames, while Marie Denise DeBartolo York was president of the 1991 winners, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Charlotte Grahame was the last to do so in 2001 when she was an executive with the Colorado Avalanche. Coincidently, the Avalanche are amongst the favorites in the latest set of NHL odds, with the team priced at +800, and just behind last year’s winners, the Vegas Golden Knights (+700).

There are a few examples of women who have been involved on team rosters as coaches, too. Jessica Campbell (Seattle Kraken) and Kori Cheverie (Penguins) were among the most recent, which led to the famous tennis icon – and a member of the board of the newly founded women’s professional league – Billy Jean King to describe as “breaking barriers”.

Will we see more women in the NHL in the future?

There is a saying that goes, “If you are good enough, then you can play”. However, with women’s and men’s sports often being separated to keep the competitive nature and the fairness of each discipline intact, it might be difficult to see another female break into the NHL as a player on the ice. That is not to say that it will not happen, as there are rumors that it could in regard to the emergency backup goaltender scenarios that may be presented.

With a growing number of women involved in other aspects of the game, though, it is likely that we could see more of a female influence from the sidelines or away from the ice in the future, especially as teams recognize the contributions that females can have on the game and how valuable they can often be.

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