October 21, 2002
WICKENHEISER TO PLAY FOR CANADA AT 2002 4 NATIONS CUP
Playing the game of hockey is Haley Wickenheiser’s passion, but with the recent decision by the Italian Ice Hockey Federation to not allow Hayley to play in Italy this season, she will be denied the opportunity to enhance her game at the pro level.
Despite several tryouts with European clubs this summer, Wickenheiser will not be going overseas to play hockey this season, instead the 23-year-old native of Shaunavon, SK will be in Canada’s lineup when the 2002 4 Nations Cup begins on November 6 in Kitchener, ON.
The Italian club of Merano had offered Hayley a contract but was waiting for final approval by the IIHF (who had no problem with it) and the Italian Ice Hockey Federation. That’s when things fell apart.
Hayley remains optimistic about playing pro hockey in Europe this season but until something is arranged, she has agreed to play with the Edmonton Chimos in the National Women's Hockey League, a 10-team league that has expanded out west for the 2002-03 season. Other teams in Europe have shown interest but until something is in stone, Wickenheiser will be honing her skills on home soil.
Wickenheiser, a leader for Canada at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City is arguably the best female hockey player in the world and is simply looking to broaden her horizons and play at a higher level. After leading Canada with 10 points at the Olympics, Hayley made it clear that playing at the next level would be her goal for the 2002-03 season.
Often found playing with men’s teams, Wickenheiser is no stranger to the men’s game. She participated in two Philadelphia Flyers rookie camps and trains throughout the summer with numerous NHL’ers such as Derrek Morris, Jarome Iginla and Brad Isbister.
The 5’9, 170-pound forward caused a stir when she expressed interest in playing with men, who would be older and much bigger than she is. Also, the fact that body checking is an element in the pro leagues in Europe, has raised eyebrows. She is a strong, tough player who can handle herself, but would other players be gunning for her trying to make a point?
Wherever Hayley decides to play she will always be known as a leader in women’s hockey, a person who is always striving to be her best. She has proven that she can dominate at the women’s international level so now it is about trying to make the next step, a step that will ultimately make Wickenheiser a better hockey player.
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