99 Men, 1 Woman: That’s A List?

The January 3rd edition of The Hockey News features the “100 People of Power and Influence” in hockey. Not the NHL, but hockey in generic terms.

Hello, editorial staff, there are no women players or coaches on this list. Last time I looked there was a “Hockey is for everyone” campaign around and diversity was celebrated. The only woman on this list is the NHL’s dope-detector doctor, and she places 94th.

How about we start with Angela Ruggiero, Olympic medalist (she is Marty Brodeur’s equal in Olympic golds) and outstanding spokesperson for the sport. If Marty can sit at sweet 16th, how about Angela in the top 20?

Then let’s add Golden Gopherette coach Laura Halldorson, who brought back to back national titles to the land of the buck-toothed mascot. She played with Patty Kazmaier (yes, that Patty) and then this past season developed three of her players to the point that they were Kazmaier award nominees. Halldorson was integral to the movement that popularized women’s ice hockey in the Ivy League and truly developed the women’s bracket in the ECAC. She is an icon in the Twin Cities and back at Old Nassau (where she offered the occasional pointer to yours truly over quite a few winter lunches). Laura deserves a spot in the top 50.

While we’re in the land of 10,000 hockey surfaces, let’s add Natalie Darwitz: Olympian, Gopher, role model. I’ll slot her at #73, ahead of Bob Naegele (owner of the Minnesota Wild). And if you thought “Who?” at least once during that last sentence you proved my point. Face it, more people are likely to see Darwitz do her hockey thing this year than Naegele.

And my vote for #100, as a sentimental placement based on history, superstition, and game experiences, goes to Arlette, the pre-game national anthem voice of the New Jersey Devils. She gets more cheers in the building than some of the players, and there is something about hearing her do justice to Francis Scott Key that lets you know you are in da house. If hockey’s mission this year is to thank the fans, regenerate interest and get butts in seats, Arlette gets the props.

The Hockey News top 100 list is a fine itemization of management, political players (in all interpretations) and media mouthpieces, but it ignores the other half of the world that plays, influences and promotes the game.