The Toronto Maple Leafs have added another big name this summer, naming four-time Olympic champion Hayley Wickenheiser assistant director of player development.
Wickenheiser, 40, holds the Canadian national team record for goals, assists and points and is the all-time leading scorer in the Olympic women’s hockey tournament. She worked with the team earlier this year, serving as a guest coach at Maple Leafs development camp in June.
Wickenheiser on taking on Assistant Dir Player Dev role:
"The biggest reason I was intrigued about this role is that Kyle was interested in me, not just to hire a woman but to hire someone who could do the job. I feel pretty confident in my abilities to be in this role."#Leafs
— Dave McCarthy (@DaveAMcCarthy) August 23, 2018
The Maple Leafs made a number of changes to their staff on Thursday, including another that is particularly newsworthy.
Noelle Needham will serve as the team’s new scout in the Midwestern United states, making her the first female amateur scout in the NHL. The 32-year-old played NCAA hockey at Minnesota State University and is co-founder of Sioux Falls Power Hockey and Legend Hockey, a pair of programs aimed at developing players of various ages for the next level.
The hiring of Wickenheiser and Needham is a significant milestone in a sport that is lacking female voices, and it’s not surprising that it’s the Maple Leafs leading the charge. Under the watch of president Brendan Shanahan, Toronto has been one of if not the most forward-thinking franchises in the NHL, be it through their investment in analytics and sports science or just generally being open to fresh ideas and new philosophies.
In other moves announced by the Leafs on Thursday, former blueliner Stephane Robidas has been promoted to director of player development after joining the front office last September as assistant director of player development.
Scott Pellerin, who has been with the team since 2014, has been elevated from assistant manager of player development to senior director of player development.
The Maple Leafs also hired another scout in Victor Carneiro (Ontario), who previously worked with GM Kyle Dubas as director of player personnel for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
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