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Wickenheiser's impending arrival yet another boost to team on the rise

Women's hockey legend and future Hall of Famer Hayley Wickenheiser announced Tuesday her decision to enter the CWHL for the first time in her career. What does this mean for Calgary, her intended team?

The best women's hockey player in the world is going to be a member of the Inferno, making this upcoming season potentially a special one for Calgary.
The best women's hockey player in the world is going to be a member of the Inferno, making this upcoming season potentially a special one for Calgary.
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

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There's been plenty of exciting news on the CWHL front for Calgary, including the potential to add two more Olympians to the roster.

Last week, Brianne Jenner announced her entry into the CWHL draft with the intent of being picked by Calgary, where she'll be attending graduate school. Then, Hayley Wickenheiser announced Tuesday that she will be doing the same, also hoping to be picked by the Inferno.

At this point, I doubt there's a soul in the hockey world who doesn't know Wickenheiser's name. She has become a legend in her own right, both as a member of Team Canada with an incredible five Olympic and 12 World Championship medals and as the first female non-goalie to play professional hockey.

She's also been a two-sport athlete (softball), she's an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the IOC's Athletes' Commission, on top of recently earning her Bachelor's in kinesiology -- oh, and being featured as one of just two playable female skaters in EA's NHL 13 (along with Angela Ruggiero).

She'll bring her big name and heftier resume with her to Calgary, which already boasts 2015's top scorer Rebecca Johnston and (for part of last season, anyway) Haley Irwin, amidst a crop of young players who have grown up within the Hockey Canada system. This will provide a stable veteran presence for the younger players coming in -- although Wickenheiser will technically be a rookie herself, the 36-year-old has been playing since 1993, the same year Louise Warren (the youngest player on the team) was born.

This will also provide a tremendous boost marketing-wise, perhaps even bigger than when Johnston joined the roster. Those who stumble upon an Inferno game during a walk through Winsport Arena and ask, "Hey, what's going on here?" will now be told, "That's Hayley Wickenheiser playing for Calgary's women's team, the Inferno," and that alone could be the start of buying tickets, going to games, all to see arguably the best female hockey player in the world (still a force of nature at 36).

With this said, it'll be up to the Inferno organization to capitalize on that, which is entirely possible. As it stands, it is probably the most skilled at fan engagement and getting the word out about its players via social media, so touting Wickenheiser's arrival (and Jenner's for that matter) should be easy enough.

Even easier would be getting fans excited about the idea of having four(!) Olympic athletes to cheer on. It's not unlike Boston's situation last season with Hilary Knight and Brianna Decker, which to be fair, Irwin/Johnston could have been had Irwin been healthy.

Still, this is a great prospect for the Inferno, who will likely look to keep adding pieces for their next Clarkson Cup run leading up to the CWHL Draft on Aug. 23.