x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Induction of James and Granato step forward

At long last, the Hockey Hall of Fame has swung open its doors and inducted a female ice hockey player.

At long last, the Hockey Hall of Fame has swung open its doors and inducted a female ice hockey player. Two, to be precise.

Angela James, an original Team Canada superstar who was known as "the Wayne Gretzky of women's hockey", and Cammi Granato, the long-time Team USA captain, have broken into the old boys' club. They join sniper/agitator Dino Ciccarelli and Detroit Red Wings executive Jimmy Devellano as this year's inductees.

James and Granato are nothing short of pioneers in the women's game, and were instrumental in the sport's growth, from acting as role models to increasing its popularity at a grass-roots level to helping the women's game gain an international profile.

The US-Canada rivalry, which took root in the early 1990s as the two countries went head-to-head in the world championships as well as numerous exhibition battles, was ramped up to the next level in 1998 when women's hockey was included in the Olympics.

Suddenly, the whole world was exposed to the quality of ice hockey that the women were playing, and it was immediately evident there was no drop-off in desire, dedication or drama. Passion, emotion and intensity marked any meeting between Canada and the US, and ultimately resulted in superior, memorable ice hockey.

And James and Granato were front and centre in those heated battles.

The induction of James and Granato is overdue, but it is also a sure sign that women's hockey has taken another step forward.