Hockey Hall of Fame debuts exhibit on women's game
TORONTO — The women's hockey world came together for the unveiling of a new exhibit at the Hockey Hall of Fame celebrating the sport's history.
Legendary players Angela James and Jayna Hefford put the finishing touches on the exhibit on Tuesday morning, placing trophies named after them into a display case at the shrine to hockey in downtown Toronto. James, the general manager of the Premier Hockey Federation's Toronto Six, and Hefford, an operations consultant with the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association, may have different visions of the sport's future but agreed on the importance of the new showcase.
"We're in this together to raise awareness and to elevate our women's game," said James, one of the first two women inducted into the Hall in 2010. "We're not even actually in competition because we're a league and they're an association."
Hefford, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018, said she sees the PHF as just another way to grow the game.
"We're staying in the women's game. We're creating opportunities for women, and we're creating more opportunities for women," said Hefford. "I don't think there's any issue with competition. I don't think there's any issue with having different visions for the future."
The PHF has seven independently owned teams in Boston, Buffalo, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montreal and Toronto. Those teams travel to play each other on a weekly basis. The Toronto Six won the Isobel Cup on March 29 with a 4-3 overtime victory against the Minnesota Whitecaps.
The PWHPA tours North America, with several games held at one venue over the course of a weekend with four teams named after its major sponsors. Team Harvey's beat Team Scotiabank 5-4 on March 12 in the association's championship game.
Both James and Hefford hoped the Hall of Fame's new exhibit would inspire young girls to start playing hockey.
"We have so much history in our game that people don't know about and we're still making history," said Hefford. "As people learn more about the sport and get excited about the history of the sport, that's how you bring more people in and people get engaged and want to be a part of it."
"The Hockey Hall of Fame is so inclusive and to be able to capture every league, every association, all of women's hockey from the 1930s right up to the current times and celebrate that is pretty phenomenal," said James. "We're all enrolling in women's hockey to elevate our game and this is pretty special, I think."
The exhibit includes nearly 100 artifacts from over 130 years of women's hockey history. Some highlights include the Clarkson Cup, Abby Hoffman Trophy, Jayna Hefford CWHL MVP Trophy and Angela James Bowl for CWHL top scorer.
A spokeswoman for the Hockey Hall of Fame said that it had planned to add the exhibit in early 2020 but those plans were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once public health restrictions were eased the exhibit's debut was timed to coincide with this week's women's world hockey championship in nearby Brampton, Ont.
Players representing Canada, Germany, Sweden, and Czechia were in attendance as the tournament begins on Wednesday.
"I came to Hockey Hall of Fame with my all boys team when I was 10 and it was always about the NHL players in the Stanley Cup," said Sarah Fillier, a forward with Canada's women's team who grew up in Georgetown, Ont. "So I can't imagine being a young girl now playing hockey, coming here and seeing the history of the women's game and being really inspired."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2023.