All-Star power forward Madison Packer has called off her retirement and has re-signed with the New York Riveters.
Packer had 13 points in 17 games last season with the Riveters while serving as one of the team’s alternate captains. Packer’s hard-nosed playing style often resulted in her drawing penalties and sacrificing her body. But after two seasons of NWHL hockey, it appeared that all the bumps and bruises had taken a toll. She announced her retirement after the Riveters were eliminated by the Beauts in the 2017 Isobel Cup Playoffs.
“I was a little banged up at the end of last year, but got patched up over the summer and I’m thrilled to be a Riveter for another season,” Packer shared in the league’s press release. “It will be great to be 100 percent again. Looking at the roster, we have a strong group. We have a lot of talent in the room, both returning and new players, and we have a real shot at winning the Cup this year. I’m anxious to get to work with this crew.”
In her first two seasons with the Riveters Packer was a leader on and off the ice. She was also a productive and menacing power forward. Last season Packer scored eight goals, four of which came on the power play. And at even strength she skated with Alexa Gruschow and Rebecca Russo, which means that the three players on the Riveters top line from last season have all re-signed with the team.
Packer is exactly the kind of top-six talent that the Riveters needed to establish themselves as true Isobel Cup contenders. She excels at creating space for her teammates and is a true difference-maker.
Off the ice Packer was one of the most outspoken players in the NWHL after the salary cuts were announced. In the league’s press release Packer made a statement that addressed this disagreement with the league:
“I want to express how humbled I am by the opportunity to play another year in the NWHL. I had some changes in my personal life that enabled me to stay in New York, and I reached out to the NWHL Players’ Association and Commissioner Dani Rylan about the opportunity to come out of my short-lived retirement and play another season.
“In my time away from the game, I realized I wasn’t ready to walk away, and I missed the camaraderie and friendships that come with being part of a team. I am grateful to the league for their support, and willingness to bring me back on board.
“Last year I was vocal about some issues, but I have a lot of respect for Dani, Hayley Moore and the NWHLPA for putting the past aside and moving forward on solid, restored grounds. The NWHL has grown tremendously this off-season, and I look forward to promoting the continued success of the women’s game, my fellow players and those who work tirelessly behind the scenes.”
Packer and recent signing Erika Lawler are both noteworthy University of Wisconsin alumna who played for USA Hockey. She’s also the director of the New Jersey Rockets girls’ program.
With Packer returning to the fold the Riveters have 19 players under contract for the 2017-18 season. Fifteen of those players, including Packer, played with the team last year. All of these returning faces could mean that the Riveters have a distinct edge in familiarity and chemistry when the regular season begins.