Toronto Maple Leafs Should Hire Hayley Wickenheiser

TORONTO, ON- Guest coach Hailey Wickenheiser at the Leafs training facility in Etobicoke. June 26, 2018. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- Guest coach Hailey Wickenheiser at the Leafs training facility in Etobicoke. June 26, 2018. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Since the age of 15 Hayley Wickenheiser has been paving the path for women in hockey. This past week she took a step further by acting as a guest coach at the Toronto Maple Leafs 2018 development camp.

Hayley Wickenheiser is one of the most notable and accomplished hockey players in history. Recently she took a swing at being behind the bench instead of on it. At this year’s Toronto Maple Leafs development camp, Wickenheiser coached on ice and skills development. She also took part in coaching a team in the intra-squad scrimmage.

Wickenheiser talks about her experience with the team and future hopes in an article by Dave McCarthy on by stating “I enjoy player development. I enjoy working with individual players, helping them with their games” and “if there is a role for me here, that’s great moving forward. I’d be interested to see what happens and stay in hockey. That would be fun to do that and see where it takes me at this point.” She also discusses the new general manager Kyle Dubas by saying “the best thing about Kyle [Dubas], I find, is that he’s very open to diverse thinking, he’s very open to exploring a lot of different ways to make the team better. I really appreciate that. I think that’s a winning attitude and it’s something I like to be around” (McCarthy 2018).

Wickenheiser securing a permanent sport within the Leafs organization would be great for the Leafs and the sport of hockey as a whole. Wickenheiser implies that she currently wants to work on skills development more so than coaching. Therefore, a great entry point for her in the organization is player development. However, going forward the Leafs should consider her a coaching asset that can be developed into a behind the bench position.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Next year Wickenheiser will be up for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This is an honor that is inevitable as her outstanding career rightfully earns her a spot among the greats. She boasts great international success, having won seven World Championship golds and six silvers. Additionally, she has four Olympic golds and one silver. She was also on the Canadian national team in Nagano in 1998 when women’s hockey first became an Olympic sport.

In her time in the Canadian uniform she has 379 points composed of 168 goals and 211 assists. She has made the World Championship All-Star team seven times and the Olympic All-Star team twice (also a two time Olympic MVP). Furthermore, she was also the first female player in Finland’s third highest professional hockey league (Suomi-sarja). She then became the first female player in Finland’s second highest hockey league (Mestis).

Wickenheiser’s accomplishments and familiarity with the men’s game make her an ideal candidate to bring into the Leafs organization. With time she has the potential to develop into an extremely successful coach. Her experience and understanding of the sport could bring a new dimension to the team.

Wickenheiser would be an undeniable asset to the Leafs organization but bringing her aboard the franchise would do so much more than just help the team. It would also make a huge statement to the hockey community. Currently women’s hockey is suffering, to say the least. As questions about salaries float around the NHL this offseason, it is important to remember that while millions are in question for male players, their female counterparts in the CWHL earn between $2,000 to $10,000 a year. Viewership rates are abysmal, in comparison to men’s hockey, and professional women’s leagues are struggling to survive.

Women’s hockey is an exciting and amazing sport, much like men’s hockey. People got to witness that at the 2018 Winter Olympic games. With NHL players absent from the competition, the spotlight in hockey at these games was on the women. In the United States, the women’s gold medal game was the most watched late-night program in NBCSN history. The total audience delivery was an average of 3.7 million viewers. 2.9 million viewers from just the NBCSN telecast. The reason women’s hockey became so popular at these games was because the men’s tournament did not overshadow them, thereby forcing people to take interest. In order for women’s hockey to grow it needs exposure, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have the opportunity to give it just that.

Many professional sports leagues are incorporating women into coaching positions. The NBA led the way by hiring Becky Hammon as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. It’s now hockey’s turn and the Leafs have the opportunity to set precedent. Hayley Wickenheiser is a skilled player and can be an amazing coach, regardless of her gender. However, her gender is important to consider because it can shape the entire hockey community. Normalizing women in coaching positions in the NHL will allow increased progression and development of women’s hockey, thereby increasing gender equality within the sport.

Wickenheiser is an extremely qualified candidate to be brought into the organization. For the future of the team, and the sport, the Leafs should seriously consider bringing her into their coaching pipeline. Being one of the oldest teams in the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs have shaped the last 101 years of hockey and now have the opportunity to drastically change the next 101.

Next: Top Ten Prospects in the Leafs Organization

Statistics from

CWHL Salary Figures from

NBCSN viewership numbers from