Earlier this week, the Edmonton Oilers invited hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser to attend their development camp and serve as a guest coach. Wickenheiser is no stranger to NHL camps — she attended two of the Philadelphia Flyer’s rookie camps in 1998 and 1999.
After she was done working with the prospects, she spoke to media afterwards about the experience and a potential future in coaching. Below is the transcript from the video that the Oilers tweeted out on Sunday.
Q: How did this come about?
A: Actually, (Oilers coach Todd McLellan). We were talking after I retired and he had asked me if I would have been interesting in coaching and invited me to come to the development camp just to see what it was all about. So it’s a great opportunity to be here, and this is a team I grew up idolizing as a young player and then obviously to retire and then be still back in the game somewhat here is kind of a full-circle thing. There’s so many great coaches and the knowledge that you can learn and just being around the team, it’s a lot of fun.”
Q: You’ve done a lot of stuff in hockey, but to put on this and skate out there still must have been pretty cool.
A: “I definitely had a bit of a surreal moment, because it is a full-circle moment for me… I grew up loving the Oilers, and I watched everything they did as a kid, and now to be somewhat around the team and being able to hear from guys like Todd and (Jay Woodcroft) and the different knowledge that they have and learn the style of play and the way they want to bring their prospects up, and then being able to interact with the players...these guys are young and they’re still learning what it’s like, so that’s fun for me.”
Q: “Is this (coaching) something you maybe want to look into?”
A: “Yeah, I think if the right opportunity came….I think being in hockey is something I know I want to do at some point in my career, and certainly working, being around the NHL would be something I’m interested in. I’ve been around the NHL a lot through my career. I’ve played in two development camps, I’ve trained with a lot of players, been around a lot of coaches, so I know the environment but I also know it’s a lot of work to get there, too.”
Q: The portion of imparting your wisdom... I don’t know if later in your career you felt comfortable with the younger players coming up, is that something you always had an itch for, or do you feel comfortable telling younger players how to play the game?
“Probably what helps me a little bit is I’ve got a 17-year-old boy at home. So I was looking at the roster, and these guys are 17-22 years old, so I was like ‘Well, I live that every day.’ And you can see that they’re nervous, they want to do well, they want to make an impact and they’re all really respectful. They’ll come and ask me questions or I’ll go up to them and offer what I can. You just want to make sure that you can have that dialogue, that they can feel comfortable that they can approach you as well.”
Q: “Hockey is hockey and caoching is coaching... do you think that it’s only a matter of time before the females are sort of into this aspect of….”
“I think for sure we’ll see women in the NHL in a coaching capacity at some point in time. Two things- she, whoever that would be, would have to be competent enough to do it, would have to have the experience and the knowledge of the game, and then also want to be in this environment. It’s a different enviromnent, and its mostly male-dominated, so you have to be comfortable being around these guys, but this organization is so professional. I’ve been treated just perfect since I got here and the guys are very respectful, and I think they respect what I can bring and I really like learning from them.”
Q: “Everyone talks about how detail-oriented this coaching staff is, so what’s your experience thus far been like with Woody and Todd McLellan and all these guys over here?”
“It’s really refreshing, I’m really impressed with the way they communicate, they understand the difference between a developmental player and a pro player. But yet their philosophy of the game and how the Oilers want to play is something that I agree with, the way I would want to play the game and if I was coaching. Being around Hockey Canada, I came from a very detailed, prepared program, so to step into this is similar in a lot of ways, but they have their own twist on it, and I really like their style. It’s fun to be around.”
Q: “Is this just a camp, or might something come out of this?”
A: “For me, this is just a camp. This is just sort of the first experience. For Todd and I, the conversation was more just come, it’s a good opportunity for you and it’s good opportunity for us, and just to be around the guys and see how they operate and we’ll see where it goes from there.”