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Hall of Fame

Wickenheiser: Goyette best of best

Canadian Olympic gold medalist talks about silky mitts of teammate who will enter Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13

by Hayley Wickenheiser / Special to NHL.com

Not only did center Hayley Wickenheiser play alongside Danielle Goyette on three Canadian Olympic hockey teams, she also played for Goyette at the University of Calgary, where Goyette now coaches. The pair won a national title there in 2012 to go with the two gold and one silver medal they claimed together at the Olympics. Wickenheiser is a five-time hockey Olympian, winning two additional gold medals in hockey in 2010 and 2014. She also was a member of the Canadian softball team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Here Wickenheiser shares her thoughts on Goyette, who will go into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, in a special testimonial for NHL.com:

 

There are a lot of awards in hockey, but to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is the most prized of them all. Not just any player goes into the Hall. It's for those special players who made an impact on the game, whose talent and skill is undeniable. They truly are great players. The best of the best.

Danielle Goyette is one of those. One of the best of the best, male or female, full stop. Goyettee, as she is affectionately known, will be getting a lot of media coverage in the coming days, months. They will talk about how she worked as a janitor at night at the Olympic Oval and trained by day. Or the part-time job at Home Depot working in the plumbing section at night after long days of training. Steel-toed boots and concrete floors for 6 to 8 hours a day just to play the game she loved. Yup, she did all of that, and more. I can't tell you how many times myself and other teammates had her over to fix our plumbing, or lay flooring or do general contractor work. Ah the many skills of Danielle Goyette … and those silky mitts! 

So yes, I'll let others talk about her grind to the top and all the blue-collar work ethic of her upbringing. What I want to talk about is those silky mitts and that great intuition. The reason why is those people maybe just don't know about that. Quite frankly, they never paid enough attention to her on-ice career and the day-to-day that made her great. I did because I had the best seat in the house, her linemate for more than 10 years.

Male or female, Danielle Goyette can go toe-to-toe with the most elite minds of the game. Her ability to see the game, pick up the minutiae of a play and recognize talent is second to none. What made her a great player? Many things. First of all, God-given athletic ability combined with tremendous work ethic. Goyette started hockey at 16 teaching herself on the outdoor rinks of her St. Nazaire village. This was a blessing for someone as talented as she was. No one there to program drills or plays into her mind, just her own intuition and abilities creating and honing her craft while watching the great Montreal Canadiens, her favorite team. It's a recipe made in hockey heaven. A true athletic talent with no external pressures or influences out on the outdoor rink making hockey magic. Oh and those silky mitts and beautiful stride.

I can say with certainty Goyette had the best hands and skating ability of anyone I have ever played with. Her knack for finding the net and scoring the big goal is legendary in women's hockey circles. I remember one time at the national championships, she got injured in the first period of the national final, only to come back in the third and score a hat trick to win it for Quebec. Stuff like that, and she did it often through her career.

Another rare and remarkable ability was her ability to be ahead of the play. This is so rare, but the great players seem to have it. When we played together we had great chemistry, often because we both knew where the other person would be. I can remember many times we would just look at each other on the bench with a nod and know exactly what that meant when we got on the ice. Danielle would wind it up and head to the far post and I would often hit her, backside, for the goal. She scored a lot and with great ease. We had our moments too because we were both intense competitors. We pushed each other, sometimes to the limits. I remember one game she yelled at me on the bench "Wick pass the ----- puck," to which I quipped "well, maybe move your butt and I will." These are the things we laugh at today, but we made each other better and never held a grudge. It was all in the name of winning and we both knew what each other stood for. 

The greater the pressure in the game, the more you could count on Danielle to show up. When many players would buckle, Goyette would score a big goal or make a big play. This part of her game had less to do with the talent she possessed than it did the internal fortitude and character she possesses and lives by each day. Never once did I go into a gold-medal final of an Olympic Games or World Championships and wonder if my linemate would show up. I knew with absolute certainty she would be there to play, and that all I needed to do was make sure I was too. Consistency day in and day out is a hallmark of Danielle Goyette. Consistency in training, in practice, in doing all the little things that many don't want to do. How she ate, slept, spoke to herself and others. Consistency in how she LOVES and studies the game of hockey. These are the things that made her a great player, a high-pressure player and now a great coach. 

I can sum up my thoughts about Danielle with two defining moments: The big goal she scored in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake and the incredible composure and play she showed in that tournament to help lead our team to the gold. The second is the 2014 Sochi Olympics. She brought her one-of-a-kind style to once again lead us to gold, this time, though, her silky mitts held a dry erase marker. 

I'm honored to call Danielle a line mate, a friend, a coach, a confidant, and now, a Hall of Famer. 

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