TORONTO -- Angela James and Cammi Granato long have been called pioneers for women's hockey and Monday night they'll be recognized for it when they become the first two females to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
This induction, however, is about them -- their accomplishments, their history and their paths to becoming legends in the game. With their induction into what used to be strictly an all-boys fraternity, however, comes the question of who is next and when will that be?
James and Granato can rattle off a list of names of female counterparts who could and perhaps should be celebrating with them this weekend as part of the Class of 2010.
"I can only speak from my era, but I played against quite a few people throughout the national scene, and player-wise there is Dawn McGuire, France St. Louis, Danielle Goyette, without a doubt my very good friend Geraldine Heaney," James said. "We still have current players playing, with Hayley Wickenheiser. Then, from builders, just here in Ontario, Fran Rider has been a tremendous supporter of women's hockey. I'm sure that there have been so many other people that I'm not naming, but those are just some that come to mind."
Angela James and Cammi Granato (Getty Images)
According to the Hockey Hall of Fame's recently amended bylaws, a maximum of two women can be inducted annually, but the committee also can choose to not induct any female in a given year, and women and men are considered in separate categories in order for the comparisons to be "apples to apples," said committee member Eric Duhatschek.
Committee members only are allowed to nominate one player and one builder each year, so it's possible that with a strong male class in 2012, when players like Joe Sakic, Brendan Shanahan, Curtis Joseph, Jeremy Roenick and Mats Sundin will be up for consideration, that there will be a year when no woman is nominated.
But, as Duhatschek also said, "theoretically we can have 18 women on the ballot."
Once nominated, a person needs 14 of the 18 committee members to vote for them in order to be inducted.
However, the challenge of gaining enough votes to be inducted seems to be less daunting now that Granato and James have broken down the barriers.
"It's a whole new level of credibility," Granato said. "We're being accepted into an elite club and there is a really respected, respected group of people here. To know that they respect our game and include us is a monumental step for women."
Let's take a look at who could be the next women to break through in the Hockey Hall of Fame:
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Danielle Goyette -- Granato said Goyette was the first name to come to mind when she thinks about who could be the next woman inducted into the Hall of Fame. "She was just so good for so long, contributed to Team Canada year after year," Granato said. "She was so prolific offensively, such a classy person." Goyette led Canada to a gold medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, finishing first in the tournament with 7 assists and tied for first with 10 points. She had 8 goals in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. Goyette carried Canada's flag into the opening ceremonies at the 2006 Olympics in Torino and won her second gold a few weeks later. She finished her international career with 113 goals and 105 assists in 171 games. She's Canada's all-time leading scorer at the World Championships, with 29 goals and 53 points in eight tournaments.
Geraldine Heaney -- Heaney is considered the Bobby Orr of the women's game. Heaney was part of six World Championship-winning teams for Team Canada and was named the best defenseman at the tournament in 1992 and '94. She had 6 points in the '98 Olympics and played a huge role in Canada's first gold-medal Olympic performance four years later. Along with James and Granato, Heaney was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008.
Cassie Campbell -- Now an analyst for CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada," Campbell was Team Canada's captain at the 2002 and 2006 Olympics Games, leading her squad to gold medals each year. She also was part of Canada's World Championship-winning rosters in 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004.
France St. Louis -- She didn't start playing until she was in her 30s, but St. Louis wound up playing for five World Championship-winning squads and capped her career with a silver medal at the 1998 Olympics when she was 39 years old. St. Louis had 4 points in Canada's 5-2 defeat of the U.S. in the championship game of the 1990 World Championship. She twice served as Team Canada's captain at the Worlds.
Hayley Wickenheiser -- While she still is very much a big part of Team Canada, Wickenheiser already is considered to be the best female hockey player in the world. Many believe now that the barrier has been broken down and women are being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame that Wickenheiser is a lock once she retires from the national team. She has won three Olympic gold medals and another six at the Women's World Championships. She has 46 points in 21 games at the Olympics and 68 points in 41 games at the Worlds. She's only 32 years old.
Angela Ruggiero -- Behind Granato, Ruggiero is the most decorated U.S. women's hockey player. She is the all-time leader in games played for Team USA; she won Olympic gold in '98, silver in '02 and '10, and bronze in '06. She also played for Team USA's World Championship-winning squad in 2005. Ruggiero was also a dynamic player for Harvard over her four-year NCAA career, earning four All-American selections and the 2004 Patty Kazmaier Award as the best female college hockey player.
Fran Rider -- Rider likely would be nominated in the builder's category because she was a driving force in the advancement of the women's game in Canada. She helped form the Ontario Women's Hockey Association and as its executive director the league has flourished, with player participation growing annually. James said Monday that without Rider there's no way she would be standing inside the Hockey Hall of Fame as an inductee. "If it wasn't for Fran Rider, I don't think so," she said. "I don't think we're here at all."