Imagine an NHL offensive weapons skill set, in a 5'7 170 lb frame. You might get some idea of what Haley Irwin brings.
Irwin, the 21 yr old offensive dynamo from Thunder Bay, Ontario is entering her first Olympics. In fact, her total experience for Canada at the major national level is limited to just the past couple years, but shes already making an impact. With 5 pts in 5 GP at her very first World Championship, Haley showed she belonged. Which is something Team Canada wasnt so certain about that long ago. Gifted offensively, they werent sure of her other skills.
At the NCAA level, Irwin has been a member of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, coached by Shannon Miller. It was a good fit. Miller knows a little something about getting to the Olympics, as the coach of Team Canada in the 1998 Olympics. Miller worked with Irwin & turned her into a more responsible, well rounded player, and Team Canada eventually came calling.
The teammight still be lead by Wickenheiser, Hefford and Botterill up front, but the next crop is already here. Haley Irwin will be front & centre of that next crop and would love nothing more than to start her Olympic career with a Gold medal in Vancouver.
Widely viewed as the top player in womens hockey for the last decade, Hayley Wickenheiser will be in Vancouver hoping to strike Gold in the Olympics for a 3rd time.
As the all-time leading scorer in International womens hockey history, Hayley is the most recognizable face int he game. One of very few women to ever play in a mens pro league, Hayley has nearly done it all in womens hockey. A 2 time Olympic Champion and 6 time World Champion, Hayley is one of the most decorated athletes in the sport. She is a 2 time "Top forward" of the World Championships, as well as 2 time Olympic tournament MVP.
Hayley hasnt just dominated in womens hockey. She has taken her skills to the mens game where she has played over 40 career games in pro leagues in Europe. Her desire to continue to challenge herself has not been ignored by the media either. Sports Illustrated, in its list of the 25 toughest athletes, listed Hayley 20th.
In Olympic action, "Wick", as she is also known to fans & teammates has an incredible 35 points in 16 GP, and nearly a goal a game with 14. She was the leading scorer in 2006 Olympics with astounding 17 pts in 5 games. It was her best performance in an Olympics to date. In World Championship play, her stats are scary as well. 68 points in 41 games played.
Hayley is one of those rare athletes that excels at almost everything she tries. Proof of this is, her inclusion on the 2000 Summer Olympics team in Softball. Despite the team having an unsuccessful tournament, Hayley proved her athleticism by leading the team in batting average. Since then, she has focused solely on hockey & maybe no surprise, has elevated her game to near unmatchable heights.
With stops in her career for the Calgary Oval X-treme of the Western Womens Hockey League (WWHL), HC Salamat (Finnish league) & Eskilstuna Linden (Swedish 3rd tier league), and an invite to Philadelphia Flyers rookie camp one year, Hayley has done more in her career than probably any other womens player.
If Canada is to win a 3rd straight Gold in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, it is a guarantee that Hayley Wickenheiser will have a lot to do with it.
You can check out her website at - http://www.hayleywickenheiser.com
You can follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/wick_22
When the 2010 Winter Olympics open up next month here in Vancouver, BC, Canada, Clara Hughes will create a little more history to put on her already impressive resume. Flag Bearer...finally.
The path from her troubled childhood to multiple time Olympic medallist and flag bearer for a hosting Olympic nation might not be what you expect, and certainly isnt the norm. But it has worked for her & now she is set to put another notch on her already amazing resume when she becomes the flag bearer for Canada in an Olympics on her home soil.
Clara will be trying to keep a couple impressive streaks alive for Canada as the flag bearer in the winter games. The last two flag bearers, Danielle Goyette (hockey 2006) & Catriona Le May Doan (speed skating 2002) both won Gold in their respective events. In fact, of the 5 females prior to Hughes to be selected, all of them won a medal in the games they were flag bearers. Goyette & Lemay Doan, Sylvie Daigle in 1992 won Gold in speed skating, Karen Magnuson with silver in 1972 figure skating & Nancy Greene in 1968 with a Gold and Silver in skiing. The men of recent years have not had the same luck when being chosen.
For Hughes, this will be her 3rd Winter Olympic games, and 5th Olympic games in total. Already a winner of 5 Olympic medals, the 2nd most in Canadian Olympics history to Cindy Klassen with 6, Hughes is also the only Canadian man or woman to win medals in the Summer and Winter games. Ontop of her Gold, Silver & Bronze medals in speed skating, she is also a 2 time bronze medalist in Cycling in 1996. Clara is one of only 4 Olympians ever to accomplish the feat of a medal in both winter & summer games.
Being flag bearer is something that Clara in the past was not wanting to do. She stated she did not want the honour for the 2006 games. She went out in those games & won 2 medals, which along with her bronze in 2002, gave her 1 of each colour. Now 37 years old, Hughes, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba is ready for that responsibility.
A former World record holder in the 10000 metres, Hughes is one of the best there is in long track speed skating. On top of her Olympic medals, Clara has some top World Cup gold medals as well in the 3000 & 5000 metre events. These are the events she will be competing in when she comes to Vancouver, the 3000 & 5000, since there is no 10000M event for women.
Her bicycling career is nothing short of amazing either, with 18 National championships, 8 Pan American medals, 1 World championship silver and a glut of other accolades, her cycling career would be enough to make her one of the greatest Canadian female athletes in history already. When you add in her speed skating legacy, she could arguably be the greatest female athlete in Canadian history.
This career started out quite differently than most great Olympic athletes. It was not till she was 16, watching the 1988 Winter Olympics & seeing a bio on Gaetan Boucher winning gold for Canada in 1984 that she got the itch to be a speed skater, let alone an athlete of any type. She was a party girl in her early days, stemming from the split of her parents, she was seemingly headed for a wasted life. Bad grades, running away from home multiple times, no motivation to be something great, experimenting with drugs & drinking. This was the life Clara had early on. Its unlikely anyone at that point saw a great Olympic athlete in their midst. Then came the '88 Olympics & something clicked. Shortly thereafter her mother got her in a speed skating program & after a couple small bumps along the way, shes never looked back.
In Vancouver next month, Clara Hughes will look to try & tie or surpass Cindy Klassen as the most decorated Canadian athlete of all time (Klassen has 1 even at the 2010 games herself). She is afterall still a legitimate threat for a medal in the 5000 metres, as well as a possible medallist in the 3000 metres. If there is 1 thing her career & career path has taught us, its this, dont doubt anything Clara Hughes sets her mind to. If she is standing on the medal podium again these Olympics, no one should be surprised.
At just 20 years of age, Drew Doughty is the youngest player on Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. More than a year & 1/2 younger than the next youngest, Jonathan Toews. This feat is more amazing when you discover Drew is a defenseman. A job that usually takes years of development to become really good at, and certainly a job you would expect to be filled by experienced veterans at the major international level. In fact, he is over 4 years younger than the next youngest defenseman on the team, Shea Weber.
But Drew has certainly earned his spot on the club. The 2nd overall pick of the L.A. Kings in the 2008 NHL entry draft has lived up to his hype since being selected. Now in his 2nd full season with the club, Drew has already cemented himself as one of the teams top defensemen, playing power play, even strength & short handed situations.
Currently 5th in league scoring amongst NHL defensemen, Drew shows no shortage of offensive skill in his game. Logging the 14th most minutes of any NHL defenseman this season is notable too, as it shows the team relies on him in all types of scenarios. Not just for his offense.
Drew brings in some international experience to the 2010 games. He has played both in the World Juniors & the World championships. Winning a gold at the WJHC & a silver at the WHC.
Its clear to anyone watching this kid that he is special & has done everything needed to make this team. Drew Doughty likely will be a force for Canada for years to come, and in 2010, this could be his coming out party, and with his only 2 international tournaments garnering medals, I am sure he plans to make it a hat trick in Vancouver.
If you live in Canada, you know the name Sidney Crosby. There isnt a single Canadian who is unfamiliar with the name. Maybe they cant tell you what team he is with, or what position he plays, but they know his name as well as Wayne Gretzky or Tim Hortons.
Sid "The Kid" is starting to become Sid "The Man" & is not disappointing his club team the Pittsburgh Penguins in using their 1st overall pick in the NHL Draft on him in 2005.
At 22 years of age Sid has literally done it all. His trophy case looks more like the Hockey Hall Of Fame display case. 1 World Junior Gold Medal, 1 Stanley Cup, 1 Hart, 1 Pearson, 3X NHL all-star. CHL Rookie of the year, 2X CHL player of the year, scoring champion, QMJHL Rookie of the year, top scorer, playoff MVP, not to mention 2X winner of the Lou Marsh Award as top athlete in Canada. All of that (minus the 2nd Marsh award) accomplished before his 22nd birthday. He is also the youngest team captain of a Stanley Cup winner in history.
As the centre piece of the Canadian offense, Sid will be relied on heavily to perform & produce. No one doubts he will do it either. On a team filled with superstars, Sidney will still very likely outshine them all by miles. Its something hes been doing since a young age, and still does even today in the best hockey league in the world, the NHL.
The Olympics is 1 goal Sidney has yet to conquer. Only being 18 the last time the Olympics were played, Sid was not chosen to the team, even though some fans suggested he should of been even then. 2010 is Sidneys coming out party for the Olympics, and most people will expect him to shine bright.
After a sluggish start to this year, Sid is on a roll now. With 57 points, 30 of them goals, Sid is currently sitting 4th in the NHL scoring race, and 2nd in the goals race. He seems to be finally finding his groove, and for Canadian hockey fans, it couldnt come at a better time with the Olympics less than a month away.
Expect big things at the 2010 Winter Olympic games from Sid the Kid...err the Man.
With Joe Sakic officially retired, Jarome has become "the man" the offense looks to for leadership. Once seen as the up & coming potential leader for Canada, Jarome now IS that leader. As a captain on his club team, the Calgary Flames, Jarome has taken his team to a Stanley Cup final. He has won 2 Richard Trophies for top goal scorer in the league. 1 Art Ross for points leader, and 1 Pearson for league MVP as voted on by players.
On the international scene he has just as impressive of a resume as ayone. He has a gold at every level. World Junior champion, World Cup champion, World Championships champion, Olympic Champion. There is nothing he hasnt accomplished for his country yet. Add to that 2 Memorial Cup trophies with the Kamloops Blazers and its clear he has done it all at practically every level.
A 2 time 50 goal scorer in the NHL, Jarome will be heavily relied upon to score goals in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. His tough, go to the net style makes him good for popping in opportunistic rebounds, and he can carry the puck just as well too.
Team Canada might have a captain in Scott Niedermayer who has done it all, but he will probably share the leadership role with Jarome Iginla. Someone that on the international ice, has done it all as well.
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