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Meghan Duggan, Team USA’s Captain America, hangs up her skates

One of the all-time greats calls it a career

IHOCKEY-OLY-2018-PYEONGCHANG-USA-CAN Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

Meghan Duggan, one of the greatest hockey players of her generation, has retired from the United States women’s national team program.

If you wanted to, you could try to sum up Duggan’s career and its impact by counting up all the goals, assists, medals, awards, and championships she piled up in her career. But it wouldn’t come close to giving you the whole picture. As impressive as her stats and collection of precious medals and trophies is, all of it hardly scratches the surface of who she is and what she has meant to the game.

Duggan is one of the greatest ambassadors of the women’s hockey the sport has ever known. When she attached her name and face to Team USA’s #BeBoldForChange boycott of the 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Plymouth, MI, because of an inequity of support and resources from USA Hockey the world took notice. Team USA’s victory off the ice ahead of the tournament set the stage for an unforgettable gold medal victory on it. One year later, Duggan contributed to Team USA’s first Olympic gold medal win in two decades.

That unparalleled victory secured her place in the pantheon of the greatest Americans to ever play the game.

“The team you see today and the culture that exists within our program is a direct reflection of Meghan’s dedication and hard work,” said Katie Million, director of women’s national team programs for USA Hockey. “Meghan’s leadership wasn’t just seen, it was felt by every single teammate. She embodied the values of Team USA on and off the ice and will be greatly missed.”

9th Annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

A champion in every meaning of the word, Duggan won three national titles at the University of Wisconsin, a Clarkson Cup in the CWHL, and seven gold medals in IIHF World Championships over the course of her career to go along with her gold medal in Pyeongchang. She was a dominant player in both the CWHL and NWHL, and has gone on to work with the PWHPA to create a viable professional league for women.

During her collegiate career, Duggan, a 5-foot-10 center unafraid of toil and tumult, was an offensive wrecking ball. She amassed 238 points in 159 games with the Badgers and made her debut with Team USA in her freshman season. In just her second World Championship, in 2008, Duggan proved herself an elite talent playing against the best in the world. She scored four goals in five games to secure her first gold with USA. Needless to say, there would be plenty more.

Team USA Media Summit Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Over the course of career Duggan adapted her game to be a player who could play in various roles on the U.S. national team. By the time the 2018 Olympics arrived, she was a superb defensive center and a nightmarish presence around the opposing goal crease. Just as importantly, her character and conduct made her just the second two-time Olympic captain of Team USA — the first was Cammi Granato.

Duggan’s eventual place in the USA Hockey Hall of Fame is not up for debate. Hilary Knight was the face of women’s hockey and the national team in this generation, but Duggan was its heart. Her excellence on and off the ice advanced the game and the program by leaps and bounds. There will be many other captains of Team USA, but for many, there will only ever be one Captain America.