Toronto Maple Leafs

Hayley Wickenheiser
AP

Hayley Wickenheiser joins Toronto Maple Leafs

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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as assistant director of player development.

The Canadian forward took part in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments — earning four gold medals and one silver — and played softball at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Wickenheiser, 40, played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

Wickenheiser has NHL experience. In 1998 and 1999, she attended the Philadelphia Flyers rookie training camp.

In 2003, she became the first woman to score a goal in a men’s professional league, in Finland’s second division.

She served as a guest coach at a Maple Leafs development camp earlier this year.

“Kind of plays like [two-time U.S. Olympian] John LeClair, only I think she’s a little meaner,” Flyers general manager Bobby Clarke said in 1998, according to the Canadian Press.

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Auston Matthews would be youngest U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player since 1992

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Auston Matthews, who became the first modern NHL player to score four goals in his first game Wednesday, would be the youngest U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player since 1992, should he be on the team in Pyeongchang in 2018.

It is of course very early to make such a projection. For one, the NHL might not send its players to the Olympics like it has done at every Winter Games since 1998.

Matthews, 19, certainly has the early pedigree — he led Team USA in goals (six) and tied for the lead in points (nine) at the world championship in May. Matthews was the youngest player on that team.

Then the Toronto Maple Leafs took him No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft on June 24.

Matthews scored in two of his three games at the World Cup of Hockey in September, against Russia and Sweden, as the youngest American in that tournament.

In 2018, Matthews would be younger than any previous U.S. Olympic men’s hockey player in the NHL participation era (since 1998) and younger than anyone on the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic team.

He would be the youngest since Albertville 1992, when the roster included three 19-year-olds — future NHL players Scott LachanceMike Dunham and Keith Tkachuk.

If he makes the team, that is. A long way to go, but Matthews is off to an exceptional start.

NBCSN will air live coverage of Matthews’ home debut for the Maple Leafs on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET.

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