The first non-North American woman is slated to join the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Riikka Sallinen was announced as part of the class of 2022 this week, becoming just the ninth woman ever inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sallinen is already a member of Finland’s Hockey Hall of Fame, where she was inducted in 2007, and the IIHF Hall of Fame, inducted in 2010. The Finnish forward has two Olympic bronze medals spanning two decades (1998 and 2018) and has six World Championship bronze medals and a silver spanning from 1990 to 2019. When she won her 2018 Olympic bronze, Sallinen, then 44-years-old, became the oldest player in Olympic hockey history to win a medal. She claimed the record after surpassing another Finnish product, Teemu Selanne.
Internationally, Sallinen dominated across nearly three decades, being named a World Championship all-star three times. In Nagano, Sallinen’s 12 points in six games were tops of all players at the 1998 Olympic Games, a tournament that included fellow Hockey Hall of Fame members Hayley Wickenheiser, Cammi Granato, Danielle Goyette, and Geraldine Heaney. In her final seasons before retiring, Sallinen had five points in six games at the 2018 Olympics. At the 2019 World Championship, she was named a top-three player on her team.
The longevity of Sallinen’s success is an impressive characteristic of her career. In the middle of her career, as injuries mounted, Sallinen took a decade-long hiatus from the game beginning in 2003 before she returned to the sport in 2013. Had Sallinen not taken this break from the game during the prime of her career, the medal count and accolades on her resume would likely double in length.
In total, only three Finnish hockey players have ever been inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. In addition to Riikka Sallinen, Teemu Selanne and Jari Kurri are the only other players from Finland enshrined.
While the Hockey Hall of Fame has allotted two positions for women to enter the Hall per induction class since 2010, Sallinen is the only woman that will be inducted in 2022. Following the initial induction of Angela James and Cammi Granato in 2010, the two spaces for women have only been used one other time in 2019 when Jayna Hefford and Hayley Wickenheisrer were inducted.
Other women who were eligible, but did not enter the Hall of Fame this year included Caroline Ouellette, Jennifer Botterill, Vicky Sunohara, Karyn Bye, Cassie Campbell, and Julie Chu.