‘The Most Intense Ever’: How Wickenheiser worked her way to the Hall

GRANATO She’s a fierce competitor, and we all are, but she wore her intensity on her sleeve. You could see it. You could see it every shift she played and you could definitely see it in the big games, she would rise.

MIKKELSON One thing that sticks out in my mind is Wick warming up, always. The minute she got to the rink, she had this laser-like focus. She would be already warming up when everybody showed up. It didn’t matter if we were at some small rink in Edmonton with no space to warm up she would find her space. Or she would put on her tuque and mitts and track pants and outside she would go. By herself. Practice, skill session, game, no matter what, she’d be out there in her track pants warming up. In my mind, I see her warming up in a pair of Hockey Canada track pants.

SMALL Coaches would have to slow her down. She always had secret training sessions in addition to the ones we were doing with the team. She would often get in trouble for doing too much, doing more, never stopping.

SMITH-BELL I don’t think there was ever a day off in her program, it wasn’t in her vocabulary to rest. It was fun at times to witness and then other times you wanted to say to her: “Wick, take a day off. It’s not going to hurt you.”

And if anyone has ever driven with Hayley, she drives like she plays. She’s maximum intensity in a vehicle [laughs]. She used to drive a motorbike. I would never ever go on the back of a motorbike with her [laughs].

I remember Hayley was over visiting our place about 10 years ago while she was out there on her Grandpa’s farm. He had bought a brand new truck, and I think he was a little nervous about lending it to her. We had just got a huge snowfall and we shoveled out our driveway. I warned her when she was leaving, “Hey Wick, we’ve got a long driveway and we got a lot of snow, so heads up. Just be careful.” As she was backing up in Hayley style, she cranked the wheel too soon and all I could see was a big puff of snow fly up in the air. She doesn’t want to come to the door — she’s trying to dig herself out with her hands because she is so far in the snowbank. She can’t get out.

Hayley doesn’t give up, but she realized that I saw her and she was like, “Oh, I’m busted now.” She came and knocked on the door. We had to go and shovel her out. That’s Hayley for you. So determined.

Wickenheiser’s drive and focus were sometimes difficult for teammates, and not just in vehicles. She wasn’t one to heap praise, and was more likely to demand better from those around her.

SMALL Within a team, she’s a very different person. She tends to be apart and holds herself to higher standards. And I think that’s why we all looked to her for that professionalism. She was a professional before that word even existed for women in hockey. She always sat at the front of the bus, right behind the staff without talking to too many people. She was often very hard on her teammates.

JOHNSTON She wasn’t afraid to tell you if you could’ve done something better or worked harder. She never let anyone off easy. She held us all accountable.

Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/hayley-wickenheiser-hall-fame-big-read/

Post Author: HockeyHawk