2010 marks the first year female hockey players will have their induction category.
Who should be the first woman or women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame? Let's take a look at the candidates:
Manon Rheaume - Ironically, she may not have the most impressive resume amongst female players, but she is probably the most famous. By playing in a NHL exhibition game and subsequently playing in the minor leagues, Manon Rheaume legitimized women's hockey and brought it to the mainstream like no other player. Her contributions will one day land her in the Hall of Fame.
Geraldine Heaney - Canada's "female Bobby Orr" was arguably the best offensive blueliner in Canadian women's hockey history. She won six world championships, twice while being named best defenseman. Heaney, who was also a great in-line skate players in the world, won Olympic gold in 2002 and Olympic silver in 1998. gold-medal victory in 2002. In 2008 Heaney joined Cammi Granato and Angela James as the first women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
Angela James is very much legend in Canadian women's hockey. The "Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey" played much of her career prior to women's hockey's arrival in the Olympic spotlight. Her controversial exclusion from the 1998 Olympic team all but officially marked the end of her career. She had four world championship gold medals but was the top female player in the world even before the first world championship tournament. In 2008, James joined Geraldine Heaney and Cammi Granato as the first women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
Cassie Campbell-Pascall - Canada's golden captain at the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games, Cassie Campbell has always been a leader. A heady player who played both on defense and at forward, her passion for the game continues long past her playing days. This five time world champion has gone on to pioneer female acceptance in the world of hockey broadcasting, becoming a regular with Hockey Night In Canada.
Daniel Goyette - One of Canada's top offensive players. She led the 1998 Olympics in goals (8) and in 2002 she tied for point lead (10). When she retired her 25 career Olympic points was the second most in Canadian history. Her storied Olympic career includes 2 gold medals and 1 silver. She was also Canada's all time leading scorer at the World Championships, scoring 29 goals and 53 points in eight world titles!
Hilda Ranscombe - Now we're going old school. During the 1930s the Preston Rivulettes were the best womens team in the world, sporting a record of 348-2. Ranscombe was the team's best player, and many considered her to be as good as the boys she played against in her youth, some of which went on to notable careers. Author Michael McKinley believes it was the Rivulettes that were the most prominent force in women's hockey history, and Ranscombe was the biggest reason for their success.
Abby Hoffman - As a girl she led the fight all the way to Ontario Supreme Court to allow girls to play hockey with boys. Opportunities that exist nowadays thanks to her in so many ways simply didn't exist back then. She was instrumental in the development of women's hockey. She later went on to a storied athletic career, most notably in track and field, as well was off the field and ice in various administrative roles.
And no doubt France St. Louis, Vicky Sunohara and another old school player named Bobbie Rosenfeld will get consideration
There are two other names that I think deserve mention. They likely will not be inducted as players, so they will have to compete against men in the builders category. Hazel McCallion and Fran Rider have been instrumental forces in getting the women's game to where it is today, and both deserve recognition.
Who will be the first woman or women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame? I suspect we'll see two inducted, as the committee would probably want to honour the most influential woman from both Canada and the USA. That's why I figure Cammi Granato is a virtual lock for 2010 enshrinement. The Canadian side has a lot of candidates to choose from, though I suspect it will be between Granato's two fellow IIHF Hall of Fame cohorts - Geraldine Heaney and Angela James.