There are very few examples of women playing in the men's major league sports teams across North America. In hockey, however, two women stand out as having come very close to competing in the mega-money major leagues. In 1992, Manon Rhéaume was put in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning in an exhibition (preseason) game, making another exhibition appearance in net in 1993 against the Boston Bruins.
Rhéaume stands, to this day, as being the only woman to compete at the NHL level. Overseas, in 2003, Hayley Wickenheiser became the first woman to score a goal in a semi-professional men's game, with the multiple Olympic gold medallist netting two goals and ten assists in 23 games for HC Salamat in Finland.
While women's hockey is noted as one of the fastest-growing sports in North America, following years of international success and inclusion in the NHL All-Star Weekend, women are already calling the shots in several areas of the prestigious NHL. From team ownership to having the keys to one of the most exciting talents breaking into the league, these women cast a long shadow in professional men's hockey.
Kim Pegula, Buffalo Sabres co-owner, president
Seoul-born and American-adopted businesswoman Kim Pegula has become one of the most active and influential female figures in the NHL – and in the NFL for that matter. She's a principal owner of the Buffalo Bills and the co-owner and president of the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL. Pegula avoided all of the career mistakes in her ascendency and has been heavily involved in the Sabres since she and her husband, Terry Pegula, purchased the team and its affiliates in 2010/11.
The storied NHL franchise has been in a perpetual rebuild since the takeover, but the hard work and dedication appear to be starting to pay off. Just as the team looks geared to push into a new era, Pegula has reasserted her position as the lead of the franchise, continuing to try to achieve long-term sustainability in the relatively small Buffalo market. The core is on the ice to build around, with the likes of Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Dahlin, and Rasmus Ristolainen: all that's needed is the right GM-head coach duo.
Ann Walton Kroenke, Colorado Avalanche owner
Having inherited stock from Bud Walton, brother of Walmart founder Sam Walton, Ann Walton was always destined to be a financial powerhouse in the United States. When she married billionaire businessman Stan Kroenke, Ann Walton Kroenke became one of the richest women in America, currently worth around $7 billion. Instead of putting time into the family business, however, the Kroenkes decided to delve into the billionaire's playground of professional sports teams, enabling her to become the owner of the Colorado Avalanche.
For the start of the 2015 season, enabling Stan to uphold ownership of the Rams NFL franchise, he transferred ownership of the Colorado Avalanche and the NBA's Denver Nuggets to Ann. Under Walton Kroenke's ownership, the NHL team has gone from strength-to-strength, building from consistently missing the playoffs to getting into the postseason in each of the last three seasons. Now, what might lead to the ultimate achievement in the league, the Avalanche are the second-favorites to win the Stanley Cup in the NHL betting, sitting at +550, ahead of early favorites like the Tampa Bay Lightning (+800) and Boston Bruins (+900).
Alexandra Mandrycky, Seattle Kraken director of hockey administration
Continuing to expand one of the most exciting sports leagues in the world, the next big move for the NHL is to introduce a brand new team. Taking the form of the Seattle Kraken, the new team is being built from the ground up as we speak. One of the most important members of the team that's building the new NHL team is Alexandra Mandrycky, the expansion club's director of hockey administration.
Mandrycky is applying her analytics expertise across almost every facet of the Kraken, from the people being put in charge of team management to the roster of hockey stars itself. She's already selected Ron Francis as the team's first-ever GM and has been crunching the numbers to build a strategy for the highly-anticipated expansion draft. The expansion draft crafts Seattle's inaugural roster by selecting players from other teams under some restrictions, so her work will prove to be invaluable to the new franchise.
Emilie Castonguay, NHL agent
As a part of a three-agent firm that makes up Momentum Hockey, Emilie Castonguay has earned notoriety in NHL circles for her incredible knowledge of the game and ability to draw in top talents to the agency. NHL talents like Antoine Roussel, Mathieu Joseph, Cedric Paquette, Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Jakob Pelletier, Christopher Gibson, and Jérémy Roy are in the Momentum Hockey stable already, but Castonguay's most significant get has been Alexis Lafrenière, who is destined to be drafted first overall this year as the top prospect entering the league.
Emilie Castonguay, Alexandra Mandrycky, Ann Walton Kroenke, and Kim Pegula are some of the most influential women in the NHL right now, setting a high bar for women aspiring to get involved in professional hockey.
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist