Hayley Wickenheiser’s prodigious talent was apparent early on.
She grew up playing on a backyard rink her father built in her hometown of Shaunavon and playing on boys’ teams before becoming the most decorated women’s hockey player of all time.
After moving to Calgary in 1990, Wickenheiser played at the 1991 Canada Winter Games with Alberta, where she scored the winning goal in the final and was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) despite being 12 in a tournament for players aged 17 and under.
Wickenheiser made her debut for the Canadian women’s program at the age of 15 at the 1994 IIHF World Women’s Hockey Championship in Lake Placid, U.S. which Canada won.
Wickenheiser and Team Canada lost the final at the first women’s Olympic hockey tournament in Nagano in 1998. That disappointment helped motivate her in each successive Olympic appearance.
She would never taste Olympic disappointment again, winning four straight gold medals, first in Salt Lake City in 2002, then Turin in 2006, Vancouver in 2010, and finally Sochi in 2014. She led the tournament in scoring and was named MVP in both 2002 and 2006. In Turin, she also set an Olympic record for assists (12) and points (17) in a single tournament that lasted 16 years.
Her 51 career points at the Olympics is the most of any player in either gender. She scored 18 goals, also a women’s Olympic record, and had 33 assists over her Olympic career. She was Canada’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics.
She won seven International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women’s World Championships with Canada, while also earning six silver medals and being named to the all-tournament team seven times. She scored 37 goals, added 49 assists and had 86 points in 61 games at the worlds.
Wickenheiser retired as Canada’s all-time leader in goals (168), assists (211), points (379), and games played (276) during her 23-year career on the national team.
Hockey wasn’t the only sport at which Wickenheiser excelled. She represented Canada in softball at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games where she posted the highest batting average on the team.
Wickenheiser played with the Calgary Oval X-Treme from 2004-08, winning the Women’s Western Hockey League championship three times. She won the Canadian Women’s Hockey League title with the Calgary Inferno in 2016. She became the first woman to score in a men’s professional game with HC Salamat in Finland in 2002. She spent two years with Salamat and another season with Eskilstuna Linden in Sweden.
In 2010, she returned to school and played for the University of Calgary, being named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Player of the Year in her first season and helping lead the Dinos to their first national title a year later.
After retiring, she completed her medical degree to become a practicing doctor and at the same time was the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Assistant General Manager, Player Development at the time of her induction.
Wickenheiser was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2019. She was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 and was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2022.
Installed in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame on September 23, 2023.