Hockey Talk

Wickenheiser Insights on Excellence

Hayley Wickenheiser [Getty Images] Ice Hockey
Hayley Wickenheiser [Getty Images]

On the season finale of Hockey Talk Coach Shannon Miller chats with four-time Olympic Champion Hayley Wickenheiser about a successful career and share some insights into sporting excellence

Hockey Talk, sponsored by ugo Wear is presented by Shannon Miller

Podcast length: 29’44″

On the final episode of Season 1 of Hockey Talk, Shannon Miller’s guest is four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser. She retired from Team Canada in 2017, finishing her career as the leading scorer for the national team. Hayley is currently the new Assistant Director of Player Development in the NHL for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  They talk about the many things that have contributed to Hayley’s success, her insights on different factors that coaches and athletes face today, as well as what she’s doing in her new job and her future plans.  Each Thursday Shannon posts her Drill of the Week on Coach Shannon Miller’s Facebook page and to end this season’s Hockey Talk podcast she will be posting books that would be a great read in the off season for athletes and coaches. Visit her FB page @coachshannonmiller on Thursday..

  1. You’ve had a long and incredibly successful playing career – you were recently inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame –you’ve got a lot going on now, let’s start by talking about what you’re involved in now?
  1. When I was in Calgary I experienced first hand  “WICKFEST” – what is WICKFEST and what is your involvement in it?
  1. I first began coaching you when you were 12 years old in Calgary. We were on the first ever girls hockey team together, then Team Alberta for the CWG, and at the young age of 15 you made Team Canada and we had a few good years together there.  While coaching you during those formative years, I remember how intense you were as an athlete – I loved your “compete level” and passion. What importance did  “compete level” and passion play in your success as an athlete? And how is it important in your life today?
  1. Mental Toughness is required by coaches and athletes to be able to handle pressure, embrace pressure and win under pressure.  Over the years, as a coach, I’ve gone through all different stages of development with regards to mental toughness. At some point in my career I began meditation – it has allowed me to build mental strength up – has taught me and given me the skills to me to go back to center when something goes wrong – to re-set – to use cue words to help me re-set and stay in the zone I need to be in, etc…. What is the importance of Mental Toughness to you?  How have you developed this skill over the years?
  1. For athletes, “re-programming” is extremely important  – What I like about “re-programming” is it is done by our self to our self – to change our thought patterns and behavior. You must be very skilled at re-programming – what is the importance of this tool to you, and can you give some specific examples of how you’ve use it?
  1. As elite coaches and athletes we work so hard, pushing to get better, striving for excellence. Excellence is a blend of personal and professional, and it is accomplished by design and a daily devotion to an area of specialization. Striving for excellence isn’t a burden, it’s a choice. What are some of your daily habits as you hold yourself to a standard of excellence?

1) In house opponents – players/staff causing problems for the team;

2) Doubt; 3) Fear. We’ve touched on how to handle DOUBT and FEAR in our conversation about Mental Toughness and Re-Programming. What in your experience is the best way to tackle the tough opponent of “in house opponents”?

  1. In your opinion – when your on a competitive team with elite athletes that is expected to win – what does the team need from a) the head coach?

b) from the assistant coaches?  C) from the captains?

  1. No matter what I have accomplished to this point in my life, I believe I haven’t had my best idea yet, my most creative moment and I have yet to reach my potential. At this point in your life, with all you have accomplished, do you also feel this way? And if so, how does that guide your dreams, passions and life?


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Hayley Wickenheiser
Olympic gold medalist, author and motivational speaker

Stats –

Seven World Championships; Six Olympic appearances; Five Olympic medals; Four Olympic Gold medals – Hayley Wickenheiser is a titan of sport and a leader both on and off the ice.

Considered one of the best female players in the game, her hockey IQ is highly respected in all areas of both the male and female game. She was the first female player in the world to notch a point in a men’s professional game while playing in Finland, and played in or coached at four NHL development camps with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Edmonton Oilers and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the first woman in history to have done so. She is also still holds the record for the most assists, points and goals for the Canadian Women’s National team.

Hayley retired in 2017, but her ascent to the top of the sport started in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan when at age 15 she was the youngest member chosen from the Canadian Women’s National team. Her Olympic career spanned 23 years, five Olympic medals and two sports, as she also competed in softball in Sydney 2000. In 2014 she was Canada’s official flag bearer and she now serves on the IOC Athletes Commission and is the Vice Chair of the Calgary 2026 Bid Committee.

She has many accolades including being named one of Sports Illustrated Top 25 Toughest Athletes in the World; has been twice named to the “Power 50 in Sports”; was among the QMI Agency’s “Top 10 Greatest Female Athletes in the History of Sports”; is a member of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame; Canada’s Top 40 under 40 and Canada’s Walk of Fame; and in 2014 she was awarded Canada’s highest honour when she was appointed to the Order of Canada for her achievements as an athlete and for her contributions to the growth of the women’s game.

Ms. Wickenheiser’s passion for sport is equally matched by her desire to give back to the community through her work with dozens of philanthropic organizations including Lace ‘Em Up, Jumpstart, KidSport and Project North and Right to Play – all organizations dedicated to ensuring kids of all financial and cultural backgrounds can play sports.

Her most profound project is the founding of the world-renown personal and athletic development weekend, The Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival which provides mentoring and growth opportunities for young athletes from around the world.

Hayley holds several honourary degrees from institutions across Canada, as well as her degree in Masters in Kiniesology from the University of Calgary. She is a mom to her grown son, Noah who is 18 years old and pursuing a career in the military.

She is currently studying Medicine at the University of Calgary where she spends as much time as possible outdoors enjoying the beautiful mountains and trails and training.










Photo: Hayley Wickenheiser [Getty Images]
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