Danielle Goyette: the past, present and future of women’s hockey

Danielle Goyette had the best seats to watch the evolution of women’s hockey.

She was there at the 1992 World Championships, the second in history, where she won gold. She was there at the first Olympic Games, in 1998, in Nagano.

Goyette, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, was one of the big events until her retirement as a player in 2008. Along the way, she wrote a whole chapter in the history of her sport: 3 Olympic medals, including 2 gold (2002 and 2006), 8 world titles, 113 goals and 108 assists in 171 games for Canada.

Then, she made her mark as a coach, for the Canadian team, but also for the Dinos of the University of Calgary, which led to the honors in 2012.

It was at her Calgary office that La Presse joined her after sending her the spontaneous tributes of four current Montreal Canadiens women. Testimonials that made him warm to the heart.

“I was expecting players I played with. But no. They were girls that I only had a little experience with. […] The fact that I come from Quebec, that they saw me on television, it gave them the taste to continue. It touched me a lot. ”

“As a human being, if you have the chance to influence even one or two people, it’s great. I see these young girls, I made them dream. Not just me, the whole national team too. ”

To enter the Hockey Hall of Fame, you have to have made your mark. Most of the players from the Canadians met admitted that it was Danielle Goyette’s brilliance at the Nagano Games that awakened their love of the sport. For the main interested, it is rather Games following, in 2002, which she prefers to remember.

“When we think about 1998, we dominated women’s hockey. We were strong, we won the world championships, but we lost in the final. It was a difficult lesson for me to come back with the silver medal. In Canada, hockey is a religion. We take that to heart. In 2002, we had the chance to recover. To beat the United States in the final, in the United States, it was even more special. ”

Danielle Goyette has been one of the greatest … (Photo Paul Chiasson, The Canadian Press Archives) – image 2.0
Danielle Goyette was one of the big events until her retirement as a player in 2008.


Think about following

Danielle Goyette has marked her sport by its results, the proof is not to be made. But she also struck the imagination by her hard work. Jogging, tireless work in the gym, few players were more fit than she was at the time.

When she compares today’s women’s hockey to that of the past, she notes two major improvements: the speed of play and the physical strength of the players.

“You see the difference when National Team players face Midget AAA players in Calgary. It’s not just the finesse of the game anymore. The girls are able to play more robustly with the guys. When you’re dealing with 6-foot guys, you have to be able to take shots and go fight along the tape. That’s the big difference, it’s beautiful to see that. ”

Next step, according to her: develop more powerful shots. But above all, Goyette offers a vibrant plea on the future of his sport. She does not understand that the two major leagues, the 7-team Canadian Women’s Hockey League and the 4-team National Women’s Hockey League, are not in a position to stand together.

With the goal, of course, that the best players in the world can live their sport. And most importantly, they can train full-time to advance women’s hockey rather than cumulate jobs to pay bills.

“We do not ask for a salary of 1 million. We want to live well. But it takes a good product on the ice to have sponsors, to attract broadcasters. The two leagues, I do not find that smart. Instead of working together to develop the product and have several teams of good caliber, now there are two leagues that do not work together. We are at the stage of working together to develop women’s hockey. You have to put all your efforts in one place and come up with the best product on the ice. ”


Danielle Goyette seen by …
Karell Émard, 29, Stinger coach and player for Canadian women

“Danielle is one of the main reasons why we, the girls, decided to keep playing hockey. What she has accomplished is exceptional. At the first Olympic Games in 1998, maybe the result was not the one she was hoping for, but she was the only one to score for Canada in the final. Watching it on television, I was very small, but I thought that one day I too would wear the national jersey. I remember turning to my father and telling him. Danielle was one of the pioneers of our sport, and without it, women’s hockey would not be where it is. Thanks to her, I knew how to develop myself as a player, but also as a coach. The Hall of Fame is lucky to have it among its members. ”

Emmanuelle Blais, 30, Canadian player and crossfit athlete

“The Nagano Games convinced me that it was what I wanted to do. Before, I played hockey with my dad, my brother, my cousin, but it did not seem really accessible. But after rubbing shoulders with France Saint-Louis and Danielle, after watching their tournaments on television, after seeing them at the Maurice Richard Arena when I was younger, I had a dream. Knowing that there was the opportunity to play with women, it changed my goals and my vision of the sport. That’s what we are trying to do with Canadian women. When I was a child, I dreamed of playing for the Montreal Canadiens. Now, we want girls to dream of becoming Kim Saint-Pierre, Charline Labonté or Marie-Philip Poulin. ”

Noémie Marin, 33, player of the Canadian women and coach of the national development team

“Danielle Goyette comes from Saint-Nazaire, I come from Acton Vale. These are two cities close to each other. As Danielle grew up, she was still the name of the city newspaper, with her exploits and medals. Danielle Goyette, it was the dream. I even heard about softball. She was also playing softball. The man with whom I was training, who was nicknamed “the Doune”, always spoke to me about Danielle. He told me she was a superb athlete. One day, she came to practice at the arena in my city. The Doune had introduced me to her. Probably she does not remember, but I remember it. She was going on the ice. Just to see her, to see in what physical form she was,

Sarah Lefort, 23, Canadian player and Boston University graduate

“She’s a legend in women’s hockey, long before Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin. The first time I remember seeing her play was at the 2002 Olympic Games. I was looking for her on the ice. She was an incredible player. I met Danielle in one of my first senior camps in Calgary, in 2013 or 2014. I remember our meeting, when she said: “Hello I’m Danielle Goyette, I played for 16 years with ‘National team.” For us, to have a player of this caliber that trained us, it was prestigious. You listen to everything she has to say. ”