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The Retirement of a USA Hockey Legend

This week, women’s hockey saw one of the greatest American players retire. Meghan Duggan is a legend from bottom to top, beginning to end, NCAA to international. In honor of her retirement, here’s an overview of her very impressive resume.

Beginnings

From Danvers, Duggan attended Cushing Academy, a boarding school in Ashburnham with a “long hockey tradition”. Like many exceptional athletes, she didn’t limit herself just to hockey; she also played soccer, softball, and, like most North American hockey players, lacrosse. Clearly, she didn’t slack off in her academics, as she committed to the University of Wisconsin as a Biology major.

NCAA

Meghan Duggan was a star for the Badgers right from the start. As a freshman, she led the team in scoring (26 goals, 3 being game-winners), was second on the team in overall points, and was third in the nation for rookie points. In addition, she was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for three straight weeks and had five WCHA weekly honors in the season.

By her senior year, Duggan had a 22-game point streak, six game-winning-goals, and 61 points in 28 games. She set records at the University for number of WCHA weekly honors in a single season and longest individual point streak (for the women’s program). To cap off her career in Wisconsin, the Badgers were NCAA Women’s Hockey Champions in 2011, defeating Boston University 4-1 in the Final. Duggan was named to the All-Tournament Team and tied teammate (past and future) Hilary Knight for MVP.

Professional Leagues

Unfortunately, at the time of her graduation from college, the closest thing women had to a professional league was the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. The CWHL did not pay their players a salary and players were only paid through bonuses and sponsorships. Despite the lack of pay, Meghan did very well for herself. In six seasons in the CWHL, she won two Clarkson Cups (Stanley Cup equivalent) in 2013 and 2015, both with the Boston Blades.

In 2015, the National Women’s Hockey League began with the promise of a salary for each player (granted, not a big one). Duggan played for the Buffalo Beauts for a season, then went back to Boston for her final season of professional hockey in 2016 with the Boston Pride.

Olympics and World Championships

In 2007, she was named to the USA Women’s roster, which started a long and successful international campaign. She took home a silver medal from the World Championships in Canada that first year. But she didn’t have to settle for second-best for long. The US women took gold in both the 2008 and 2009 World Championships with Duggan.

The 2010 Olympics was a heartbreaking loss to Canada in the Gold Medal Game, but the US women went on a revenge tour for the 2011, 2012, and 2013 World Championships. They took Gold in all three.

Duggan was named Captain for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi when they had another heartbreaking defeat by Canada in the Gold Medal Game. After another disappointment, the US Women once again did not lose a World Championship for the three following years.

After two hard losses in the Olympics, Pyeongchang 2018 was different. With Duggan still at the helm, the US Women finally exercised their demons with Canada, taking the Gold after a shootout in the Final.

Activism

In 2017, the US Women’s National Hockey Team announced they would be boycotting the World Championships that year if USA Hockey didn’t agree to pay them a fair wage and give them equitable support. This was a huge gamble for the team, under the leadership of Captain Duggan, as USA Hockey threatened to make a replacement roster. At the time, USA Hockey was only paying the women $1000 a month for six months every four years with the Olympic cycle. There was also no development program for girls, like there was for boys, among many other inequities. But the women put their foot down to make a change.

After only two weeks of the standoff, USA Hockey and its women’s team had come to terms. It was a culmination of a year of negotiations. They went on to win gold at the World Championships that year in Michigan. Duggan called it a victory for the sport.

Retirement and Beyond

On October 13, Meghan Duggan announced that she would be retiring from hockey.

 She’s only 33, she has plenty of life ahead of her. I imagine she’s going to want to spend time with her wife Gillian and their son George in the immediate future. But, I also hope to see her come back to the sport in some fashion. She has been instrumental in the success and advancement of USA Hockey and has contributed to the continuing development of the NWHL.

We wish her the best and can’t wait to see what she does next!

-Heidi Thomas (@DamselOnDrums)

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Heidi Thomas

Armchair hockey coach, passive horse racing fan, full-time dog referee.

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