On September 19, 2022, I sat down with Women’s Hockey icon and 3x Olympic Gold Medalist Rebecca Johnston on my Flames coverage channel Into The Flames.
Johnston’s new start
Rebecca Johnston has been a member of Canada’s National Women’s team since 2007. During her international career, she’s achieved the feat of being a three-time gold medalist (2010, 2014, 2022) while having competed in four Olympic Games thus far, as well as 10 IIHF Women’s World Championships, where she has won twice (2012, 2021).
Johnston ranks top 10 all-time in scoring for Canada’s National Women’s team.
On September 13, 2022 she joined the Calgary Flames hockey operations department in a full-time role in player development, prospect evaluation and on-ice instruction, as well as being involved within the Flames Foundation’s community programs.
What Johnston hopes to bring to Calgary
When asked about what ways she is looking to leave an impact on the team and what areas she is looking to improve, Johnston stated: “I’ve just been through so many different experiences throughout my career, I’ve dealt with a lot of adversity, I’ve dealt with a lot of things on the mental side of the game, I’ve dealt a lot with injuries and just making it to the top and accomplishing my goals, just making it to be the best in the world.”
“Those experiences alone, I feel like I can really help these prospects, these guys develop and accomplish their goals of making it to the NHL and taking that next step.”
“There are so many things you just don’t know when you’re younger and I wish I knew a lot of this stuff when I was younger, it just would’ve been an easier transition, I would’ve been able to develop a lot quicker.”
“A lot of this stuff with sport, it’s not just about on the ice or on the field, half of it is the mental side of the game and being able to deal with certain situations and adversity, I think that’s the main thing and I hope to help these prospects develop, I think those are some of the things I can shed some light on for sure.”
The impact of women making their mark in the NHL
Hayley Wickenheiser is among five female assistant general managers in the NHL at this stage.
Marie-Philip Poulin was hired by the Montreal Canadiens this past summer in a part-time player personnel role, former US Captain Meghan Duggan is now a manager of player development for the New Jersey Devils, Manon Rhéaume became a hockey operations and prospect advisor for the Los Angeles Kings in July, she was also the first and only woman to play in an NHL exhibition game.
My question for Rebecca Johnston was in regards to the growth of the female presence within the NHL to which I asked: “what’s that feeling like to have little girls look up to you and believe they could also make it to the NHL someday too?”
This was her response: “It’s pretty crazy, honestly I never thought I’d be here and I never thought I’d accomplish what I have so far, just the opportunities I’ve had and this opportunity specifically, I’m so thankful and I just can’t wait to get started. It’s awesome to see all these females now in the NHL side of the game and just the messages that I’ve got, since it has been announced, just from young girls and families, it’s pretty crazy the support that I’ve had so far, it’s only been a week or so.”
We wish Rebecca Johnston nothing but the best in her new position and it will be interesting to see what she can bring in regards to her impact on the development side of the prospect pipeline!