Date of Birth:  December 8, 1978
 Place of Birth: Shaunavon, SK
 Residence: N/A
 Years on National Team:
 Height:  5'9"
 Weight: 170 lbs

A member of the national women's hockey team since she was a raw 15-year-old, Hayley Wickenheiser will once again be front and center as Team Canada attempts to defend the gold medal they won four years ago in Salt Lake City. With 10 points in the Olympic tournament, the crafty forward was the clear-cut choice for MVP.

Only one year after her Olympic victory, Wickenheiser made history when she joined Kirkkonunnen Salumet, a second-division men's hockey team in Finland. She did not look out of place on the ice, scoring twice and accumulating 10 assists in 23 games.

It was not the first time Wickenheiser has played with the boys. Growing up in Shauavon, Saskatchewan, her advanced skills earned her spots on many boys' teams. Additionally, in both 1998 and 1999, her great play earned her back-to-back invitations to the Philadelphia Flyers' rookie camp.

An amazing athlete her entire life, Wickenheiser is also an excellent softball player. Good enough, in fact, to be included on the Canadian Olympic softball team at the Sydney Games in 2000. Unfortunately, the team was unable to reach the podium that year.

As arguably the world's greatest women's player, Wickenheiser has been a World Champion six times (1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004). She's also been named to The Hockey News' Top 100 Most Influential People on four different occasions (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004).

Since the beginning of August, Wickenheiser has been living and training in Calgary with Team Canada. Like in their gold-medal year in 2002, Team Canada is spending months together before the Games, melding into a cohesive unit. At a November 2005 tournament at the Palasport Olimpico in Turin, the site of the upcoming Olympic competition, Canada looked to be in top form as they shut out their rivals from the United States 5-0 and 7-0. In the latter game, Wickenheiser was at her best, scoring twice to help her earn her a spot on the tournament's all-star team.

With all she's accomplished to date, it's hard to believe the one they call the Wayne Gretzky of the women's game is just 27-years-old.

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2006 Hockey Coverage