International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #12

WW Top 25 Stories: #12

Angela James cut prior to Nagano

Published 24.03.2015 19:33 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #12
USA forward Amanda Kessel scores a goal against Switzerland during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
23 December 1997. Angela James became women’s hockey’s first superstar when the sport was introduced on the international stage in the ‘90s.

She was a powerful skater who had a tremendous shot. She could deke and pass and play both ends of the ice. In 1990, when body-checking was still allowed, opponents said that running into James was like hitting a sheet of steel. She was, in short, dominant.

James played in the 1987 invitational event and the first IIHF Women’s Worlds in 1990, becoming a dominant forward for Canada. She played all four events leading up to the Nagano Olympics (1990, 1992, 1994, 1997), during which time she scored 22 goals in just 20 games.

Canada won gold at each of those four Women’s Worlds, and James was the team’s star player. In 1994, Canada won gold with a 6-3 win over the U.S., and James, with two goals, was named player of the game.

Under coach Shannon Miller, the team started training camp for Nagano in December 1997, and two days before Christmas the coach announced the lineup for the Olympics. James, who had celebrated her 34th birthday the day previous, was not on the list.

Miller explained her decision by calling James a defensive liability, a label the player profusely denied. Indeed, she ended up petitioning Hockey Canada to be re-instated, but her pleas fell on deaf ears and she didn’t go to the Olympics.

Unfortunately, leaving James off the roster at such a late date proved detrimental to the team’s fortunes. If Miller’s hopes were to shock the team out of some perceived complacency, it backfired, for Canada, which lost two games to the Americans en route to a shocking and disappointing silver medal.

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Cammi Granato, James’s American soulmate in so many ways, admitted the U.S. team was stunned that James wasn’t on the Olympic team and concurred that it gave her side a psychological advantage. Granato suffered a similar fate prior to the 2006 Olympics, and the U.S. team failed to win gold as well.

After retiring, James experienced a happy hat trick of honours. She was one of the first players to be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008 (with Granato and another Canadian, Geraldine Heaney). Then, in 2009, she was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. And, finally, in 2010, she and Granato were the first women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

She may not have played in Nagano, but by then her legacy had been well established. Hers was a shocking omission all the same.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#13: Amanda Kessel misses 2014/15 with concussion
#14: IIHF removes body-checking from women’s hockey
#15: Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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