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Wickenheiser named Maple Leafs senior director of player development

Hall of Famer has been with Toronto since 2018; Goyette added to staff @NHLdotcom

Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser was promoted to senior director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, and Danielle Goyette was hired as director of player development.

Wickenheiser was named Maple Leafs assistant director of player development Aug. 23, 2018. She has worked with Toronto prospects at all levels, with a focus on those based in western Canada while she completed her education at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine in 2021.

The four-time Olympic women's hockey gold medalist (2002, 2006, 2010, 2014) scored 379 points (168 goals, 211 assists), the most in the history of her country. She retired in 2017 to pursue becoming an emergency room doctor, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019, and became one of Canada's most influential faces in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

"I worked with her a lot in my time with the Marlies (Toronto's American Hockey League affiliate) when she was working in player development and she really helped bring a lot to the player development program," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. "I learned a lot from having conversations with her. She played the game at a high, high level obviously, and she's an elite talent that has that unique combination of great talent, elite intelligence and elite work ethic. And all those things shine through in her role anytime she's been around myself, the coaching staff or the players.

"So to have her take a significant step into a leadership position here now within the player development program is a huge win for our organization. I can't speak highly enough about Hayley, in terms of what she brings on the hockey side of it."

Goyette won the Olympic gold medal twice as a player (2002, 2006) and once as an assistant coach for Canada (2014). She also helped Canada win the IIHF Women's World Championship eight times, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 and named to the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2018.

"It's a dream come true," Goyette said. "When we talk about playing hockey as a girl, you want to play NHL, but there comes a point when you know it's not going to happen. Now everything is changing, and I feel lucky that I'm able to open some doors. It's not just about us, but it's about female sport as well. Having women in sport, having roles that make a difference in the NHL, for me, it's pretty amazing to be in that position. I think we will keep pushing each other, that is what we have done our whole career."

Goyette joins the Maple Leafs after 13 seasons as coach of the University of Calgary women's hockey team, which she coached to a Canada national college championship in 2012.

"[General manager] Kyle [Dubas] gave me the opportunity to hire someone and right away I thought of Danielle and her experience of being a head coach, bottle washer and bus driver at the University of Calgary," Wickenheiser said. "Her ability to run a program, coach and develop and do all the things we do in development. It's someone I have played with, played for and worked with for so many years.

"I don't know that I see it so much as searching for a woman as much as you're just trying to hire the best person for the job. It wasn't for me like, 'I must hire a woman.' It was, 'Who is the best person that I know, or that is out there, that could fill this role?' And quite frankly, it was Danielle."

Said Keefe, "I don't know Danielle Goyette other than to say that she is very much like Hayley in terms of her accomplishments on the ice as a player, especially with the national team," Keefe said. "And then has been coaching here for the last number of years as well and has had success there. And I know she was right at the top of Hayley's list to bring in. And if it's good with Hayley it's good with me, so another big win for our organization."

Will Sibley was promoted to director of development operations and analysis. Player development consultant Darryl Belfry will oversee the technical development of Maple Leafs players and staff. His company, Belfry Hockey Inc., works with clients including Toronto forwards John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Jason Spezza. 

The Maple Leafs, the No. 1 seed in the seven-team Scotia North Division, will play Game 1 of the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round against the No. 4 seed Montreal Canadiens in Toronto on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN, TVAS). staff writer Mike Zeisberger contributed to this report

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