Yes, women can play in the NHL. While there are currently no women playing in the NHL, there have been several women who have played professional hockey and several who have participated in the NHL’s developmental leagues.
In addition, there have been several women who have played for national teams and have competed in international tournaments.
While the number of women playing professional hockey is still relatively small, the sport is growing in popularity among women and there are many talented female players who have the skills and ability to play at the highest levels of the game.
Why are There No Women in the NHL?
Though many women work in the NHL in various positions like scouts, safeties, etc., there are not any with hockey sticks competing in the league. It is mainly due to physical differences and safety reasons.
The average height for an NHL player is 6 feet 1 inch, and the weight is 91 kg, which is lacking in most female ice hockey players.
Also, ice hockey itself is rough leading to different safety issues for female players while considering them for the NHL.
Female Players in the History of the NHL
The glorious 106-year-long history of the NHL (National Hockey League) started in 1917 in Canada and got passed down to the USA. The NHL currently houses thirty-two teams, seven Canadian and twenty-five American.
Despite having this long history and these many teams, the NHL always lacked female players on the ice.
Just this year, the NHL has included female ice hockey in its video game, but there is still a long way to go before having them in an actual game.
The NHL is the highest event for professional ice hockey, but it never had any female player playing on the ice except for a few exceptions like Manon Rhéaume and Kendall Coyne Schofield.
So, has any female player played in the NHL?
While Rhéaume is the only female to play in the NHL, Coyne Schofield is the only female to compete in the All-Star Skills event of the NHL.
List of Women Who Have Contributed to the NHL
Though we have only a few female ice hockey players who hold their hockey sticks on the ice, there are plenty of female members in the NHL who have been contributing to the entire league. Here are some women to whom the NHL will always be grateful.
- Dawn Braid
The first one on the list is the former skating coach of the Arizona Coyotes, Dawn Braid. The Coyotes hired Braid in 2016, making her the first woman to have a full-time job as a coach in the NFL.
She worked with the team for two years before returning to continue her initial career as a consultant.
Braid started as a skating techniques coach when she was just seventeen and later changed her profession to a consultant, which she continues to this day.
As a consultant, she has provided her expertise to many NHL teams, such as Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres, etc.
- Irene Castle
The second name on the list is Irene Castle, who has no relation with the NHL directly but is one of the celebrated figures because of her contribution.
The dancing queen of the 19th century was the wife of the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, Frederic McLaughlin. Because of her husband, Castle also got inclined to NHL.
And as a result, she was the one who designed the logos and the uniform of the Blackhawks.
Though the design evolved with time, it remains one of the most iconic sports logos in the entire world to this day.
- Marguerite Norris
Marguerite Norris, the daughter of James Norris, owner of the Detroit Red Wings, is another woman who has been part of the NHL.
Norris became the president of the Red Wings at the young age of twenty-five after the death of her father and took command of the team.
She commanded the Wings for four years between 1952 to 1955 and became the first female Executive.
She also became the first woman whose name got engraved in the Stanley Cup after her team won the Cup twice.
- France Margaret Bélanger
The next name on the list is France Margaret Bélnager, the first female to be part of the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL as one of its executive committee members.
Bélnager started her career as a partner in a law firm and paved her way to the NHL Executive Inclusion Council in 2020.
Besides this, the talented diva also serves as the alternate NHL Governor of the Canadiens, along with Geoff Molson.
- Kimberly Davis
The list continues with another diva associated with the NHL, Kim Davis. Davis was appointed the Executive Vice President of the NHL in 2017 for a month before getting promoted to Senior Vice President.
She has held the position since then and provided her more than three-decade-long expertise to the NHL.
- Kendall Coyne Schofield
The female ice hockey player Kendall Coyne Schofield also joins the list as she is the first-ever woman to compete in the All-Star Skills festivities organized by the NHL.
The gold medalist of the 2018 Winter Olympics competed in the event in place of Nathan MacKinnon after his injury and gave an excellent performance.
During the event, Coyne Schofield defeated many other male contestants. She came in the seventh position with an impressive time that was just one second slower than the winner.
Her performance in the event showed the world that if given an opportunity, even female ice hockey females can make it to NHL.
- Manon Rhéaume
The last one on the list is Manon Rhéaume, the first woman to play in the NHL. The Olympics silver medalist played for the Tampa Bay Lighting on two occasions, making history.
She initially played for the Lightning during one of the exhibition games and then again against the Boston Bruins.
Rhéaume had a glorious career where she played as a goaltender for Minnesota Whitecaps of the Women’s Professional League and many other teams such as Port Huron Icehawks, Flint Generals, etc. of the Men’s Professional Leagues.
Despite retiring as an ice hockey player, Rhéaume has maintained ties with ice hockey as a prospect advisor and hockey operations for the Los Angeles Kings and still inspires many female players to shoot for the NHL.
She is a living example that even women can thrive on the ice of the NHL.
People do not consider women to play in the NHL. However, a few female players have broken this stereotype. They have given the hope that women playing in the NHL is not impossible.
Along with these brave female players, other women involved in the NHL have also proven that a woman can be a part of the NHL and even lead if they get the opportunity.