Clarkson Cup champion Hilary Knight ready to become a household name
While the 2012-13 campaign was a dream season that culminated in a Clarkson Cup victory and an IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, Boston Blades forward Hilary Knight is showing no signs of slowing down. Her off-season may prove to hold more excitement.
Among fans of the CWHL, San Francisco-born Hilary Knight not only exceeded her future superstar expectations, she has established herself as the premier American-born player.
Following her Clarkson Cup victory, Knight joined her Blades teammates at Boston’s historic Fenway Park. In recognition of the historic win, the Boston Red Sox baseball club invited the team onto the field for a pre-game ceremony.
A few short weeks later, Knight had another baseball experience. Returning to her home state of California, she was at Dodger Stadium, the most historic Major League ballpark on the west coast. Relaxing in the stands with Knight were USA Hockey teammates Julie Chu (of the CWHL’s Montreal Stars), Amanda Kessel and the Lamoureux Twins, Jocelyne and Monique.
As a side note, they also caught a postseason tussle between the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks. The reason for Knight and her USA Hockey teammates’ visit to Los Angeles was attributed to a patriotic photo shoot. Working with Getty Images photographer Harry How, they were part of a shoot for the United States Olympic Committee to help promote the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“I had a blast,” Knight said. “Photo shoots are a neat experience. It is always fun to glam up and get your picture taken – especially when representing Team U.S.A.”
“Getting the opportunity to cheer on the former Stanley Cup champs and some of my favorite players was a bonus,” she said. “L.A. does a great job with sporting events; I was mesmerized by the Dodgers giant big screen.”
As a rookie this past season, Knight not only led all-American players in scoring, ranking third overall among all CWHL skaters, she became the first American to win the CWHL Most Valuable Player Award. She would follow it up by leading all players in post-season scoring, as the Boston Blades captured their first-ever Clarkson Cup.
With Sochi 2014 looming on the horizon, Knight had the opportunity to be part of something unique. The Topps trading card company (famous for their baseball cards) issued a set of various athletes that are hopefuls for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games Games, which included the likes of Lindsey Vonn and Lolo Jones.
Among them, Knight was one of three women’s hockey players (the others being the Lamoureux sisters) that had her image featured on a trading card. It’s a rare honour among the players of the CWHL. Knight was also immortalized on cardboard in 2012 as she was part of a trading card in Sports Illustrated for Kids magazine.
“It is surreal,” Knight said. “I am so happy to represent women’s hockey, and I think having a trading card in the same set and featured with other amazing athletes brings more attention and recognition to and for our sport.”
In July 2013, Knight was on a taping for The Crossover with Michelle Beadle. A sports talk show airing on NBC Sports, Knight is the first CWHL player featured on the program.
“It was unreal! Michelle is an incredible woman; I had a ton of fun,” Knight recalled. “I am even more excited to see her reaction once she joins us on the bench at one of our pre-Olympic tour games against Canada.”
Should Knight help the U.S. claim its first Olympic Winter Games gold medal in women’s hockey since 1998, the first to feature women’s hockey, she will be in rarified air. The victory would provide her with a unique grand slam in women’s hockey: Olympic gold, IIHF gold, a Clarkson Cup and an NCAA championship. The first (and only) American woman to have accomplished this was the legendary Jenny Potter.
In her debut season with the Blades, Knight had the opportunity for another legendary figure in United States women’s hockey, Digit Murphy. The first NCAA women’s coach to reach the 200 and 300 wins plateau, she served as the Blades head coach and general manager during their run to the Clarkson Cup. The opportunity to coach an influential player such as Knight was a pleasure for Murphy.
“Hilary Knight is the consummate athlete and brand that you want a professional athlete to be,” Boston Blades head coach Digit Murphy said. “Serious, motivated, talented, attentive and always willing to do anything for the Boston Blades and the CWHL.”
“To have a star athlete come to the table with this type of dedication to growing our sport should be celebrated across all levels of our game,” Murphy added. “Hilary is a class act and anyone who has the pleasure to coach heris fortunate.”
One day, Knight’s name in women’s hockey may be synonymous with the sport, such as Jennie Finch in softball, Serena Williams in tennis or Abby Wambach in soccer.
As one of the faces of the U.S. Women’s National Team, there is no question that the rest of the sporting world will soon catch up to Hilary Knight. Quickly emerging as a household name, she is proudly continuing the legacy of past American pioneers such as Cammi Granato and Angela Ruggiero.
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