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Heaney becomes third female to enter HHOF

by Dan Rosen

TORONTO -- Geraldine Heaney is known as the female Bobby Orr. Now she'll forever be linked with the great Boston Bruins defenseman for another reason.

Heaney joined Orr in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. She also joined Cammi Granato and Angela James as the only females in the Hall. Granato and James were inducted in 2010.

"When I think of Geraldine Heaney I think of a hockey pioneer," Cassie Campbell-Pascall said on the TSN broadcast. "When you're talking offensive defenseman in women's hockey, her name will always be the one that comes up first.

"She's one of my heroes."

Heaney started her acceptance speech with one word: "Wow."

She then cracked a joke, saying she wanted to trade in her heels for a pair of skates.

"As you can see I'm not as good in my heels as I was when I played hockey in my skates," she said.

Heaney went on to deliver her thank yous, starting with the Hall of Fame for continuing to inducted women. She mentioned Campbell-Pascall and Hayley Wickenheiser, who are both in attendance, and said she was looking forward to seeing them get inducted here in the future.

"As a young girl growing up in Toronto I never dreamed I'd be standing up here being inducted into the Hall of Fame," Heaney said. "It really does seem surreal but being only the third female to do so it really makes it more special."

She called it "an honor to follow the two greatest female hockey players in the game into the Hall of Fame." Granato and James are in attendance.

"I want to share this honor with all the woman who played before me, played against me and played with me," Heaney said.

She said when she received her Hall call in June she started to reflect back on her accomplishments and what a journey it was. She thanked the International Ice Hockey Federation for giving women the chance to play and for inducted herself, Granato and James into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008.

She thanked Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and said, "It always special to wear the Canadian jersey and something I never got tired of doing."

After delivering a general thank you to the coaches and players on the national team, she gave a special shout out to Campbell-Pascall and Wickenheiser.

"I'd like to wish the women's Olympic team all the best in Sochi," Heaney said. "I know you guys will do us proud and bring home the gold medal."

She mentioned Fran Rider, the founder of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association and the organizer of the first unofficial women's world championship in 1987. The first IIHF Women's World Championship took place in 1990.

Heaney then started talking about the Toronto Aeroes, the team she played for from the time she was 13 until she was 38. She mentioned that her coach, Ken Dufton, was a great coach, but "it gave me great pleasure giving you fits when I would take off with the puck."

Heaney then started talking about her family, including her husband, John.

"I want to apologize for all the heat you've been taking at work because your wife has a harder shot than you, but wasn't it worth it in the end?" she joked.

Their kids, Shannon and Patrick, were in the crowd. Patrick was on John's lap and actually started crying when Heaney mentioned her. Heaney even said he was "a little grumpy."

She mentioned her sister Colleen and thanked her for "everything, especially the babysitting." She thanked her mom and dad for moving the family from Ireland to Canada and letting her take up the game of hockey.

"Thank you for never telling me that girls don't play," Heaney said.

She saved her last thank you for her late sister Catherine, who passed away from cancer in 2008. Catherine was one year older than Geraldine.

"If there was a cup in heaven I know you'd be toasting me now," Heaney said. "Thanks very much."


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