Angela James, a 45 year old from Toronto, Ontario will become one of the first two women hockey players to enter the hall, and the first Canadian women's player to enter.
Despite never getting to play in the Olympic games, James accomplishments & marks on the sport are so recognized by hockey enthusiasts & stats keepers, that even her lack of Olympic medals couldnt prevent the "first modern superstar of women's hockey" from being inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall Of Fame, The IIHF Hall Of Fame & now the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
James grew up in the era where women were not just discouraged from playing hockey, but often were prevented from playing. She didnt have large multi-team leagues of talented females to compete against, she had to hone her craft against boys, and she did so. She quickly started to emerge as one of women's hockey's top stars in the 70s & 80s as she played in the Central Ontario Women's Hockey League (which eventually became the NWHL). Throughout her career James played in every position, including goaltender. Despite being known as a top scorer, Angela also has a shutout on her resume as well.
James has been retired from the game for about a decade now, but her mark is still seen at all levels of the sport. From Olympic champions idolizing her, to her involvelemt in running an adult hockey school (Breakaway Adult Hockey School) to simply having the top scoring player in the Canadian Women's Hockey League win a bowl named after her "Angela James Bowl" every season, James has left her mark all over the hockey world.
Her list of accolades includes.
- Canadian Sports Hall Of Fame in 2009
- International Ice Hockey Federation Hall Of Fame in 2008
- An arena named after her in Toronto
- 4 World championships (90, 92, 94, 97)
- 12 National championships (8 MVP titles in those tournies)
She even has a roller hockey & ball hockey championship.
It would be terribly hard to find someone with a rational excuse to keep Angela James out of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
Cammi Granato is a 39 year old from Downers Grove, Illinois that will join Angela James as the first women hockey players to be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
Unlike her Canadian counterpart, Granato played in 2 Olympics, collecting Gold in her first, and a silver in her second. She was the captain of the first ever Olympic women's hockey champions, she is the U.S. national teams all time women's hockey leading scorer, she is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame, the IIHF Hall Of Fame & now the Hockey Hall Of Fame.
Granato was raised in a hockey family. Her brother Tony, went on to a long career in the NHL as a player & a coach, her other brothers & 2 other brothers played collegiate hockey. Like James however, Cammi had to develop her skill set in mens leagues at a younger age. She would play college hockey for Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. James would compete in organized "pro" women's league as well, but at the end of her career, as a member of the B.C. Breakers of the Western Women's Hockey League.
Granato has not been out of the game for long, and only a couple years ago when I talked to her, she had a slight interest in possibly returning to playing after having a child with her husband, former NHLer Ray Ferraro. Eventually, those thought subsided & she is a full time mom now. Her mark, just like James, is all over the sport. Just like James, there is a multitude of Olympians who idolize her, she runs a hockey camp in Chicago every summer for girls, and she has even done a bit of TV work for NBC during the Olympics.
Her list of accolades includes
- U.S. Hockey Hall Of Fame 2008
- International Ice Hockey Federation Hall Of Fame 2008
1- World Championship & 8 Silvers
1- Olympic Championship & 1 Silver
She Captained the first ever Olympic champions
Cammi Granato seemed like a solid choice for the HHOF someday. That time is now.
It wont be long till the HHOF is filled with the likes of Geraldine Heaney, Riikka Nieminen, Angela Ruggeiro, Shirley Cameron, Karen Bye, Danielle Goyette, Natalie Darwitz, Hayley Wickenheiser, Kim Martin and Jennifer Botterill. A lot of people have been opposed to this decision to include women, but the reality is, its been overdue for a few years. The mentality that there are more deserving NHL players is the most common excuse to suggest they not get in. But, what many seem to fail in seeing that say this is, this has NEVER been the NHLHOF, its the HHOF. Regardless what league you are in, you should have the same rights to get in as the NHL players. Maybe 15-20 years from now, arguments will be had about including players who "only played in the KHL" being inducted, someone will look back & reference the same debate was made about women being added at one time & with any luck, the women's game will be stronger & more recognized by then, and that rebuttal will be seen as a logical counterpoint.
This year, women's hockey tames a huge step in a series of huge steps its continued to take. From having their first world championship, to having their first Olympics, to having their first draft for a major women's league this past summer, to having their first two members in the Hockey Hall Of Fame. The road has had lots of bumps along the way, but, with each hurdle cleared, the bumps seem to get a lot less bumpy. Just like it should be. Next stop, a paid pro league? Lets hope so.... oh, and maybe a team back in Vancouver? Afterall, we had a Hockey Hall Of Famer play her major women's hockey here once.
Congratulations to Cammi Granato and Angela James on setting a goal for future women's players to reach for....and on making it into the Hockey Hall Of Fame.