April 6, 2011

Fischler Report: Botterill looks back on her career

Jennifer Botterill (photo: Harvard)

Former Harvard star Jennifer Botterill recently announced her retirement from the Canadian National Team, after a career in which she earned four Olympic medals (three gold) and five World Championships.

She is the only two-time winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top women’s NCAA Division 1 hockey player (both with Harvard).

In an interview with TFR’s Rob Del Mundo, Botterill discussed her decision and her career.

What made you decide to retire at this time?

“It just felt right for me. It’s hard to say the exact reason, but it was a gut feeling. I’ve been a little bit reflective and trying to decide what was best for me. I feel it was a good time to look back and say, ‘I feel so thankful and so fortunate for every experience that I’ve had with the national team.’”

Challenges the Canadian Women’s Hockey League has faced and is facing:

“We’ve made some great strides, and the league itself was excellent this year. There was a lot of parity, a lot of close games, great competitive games, and that’s great to see for the game.

“The challenge is just getting the exposure that it needs, so that people are aware of the league and the caliber of players that are involved with the league.

“It’s taking the right steps, and hopefully it will continue to grow each year.”

How the women’s game has changed since the Nagano Olympics in 1998:

“It’s been amazing to see the change in the game. You see it all the time. To this day, when I’m working at hockey schools or doing development sessions for girls’ teams, I see girls at any age – even at four, five or six years old – that want to play the game and that have choices on which teams they want to play on.

“It’s changed so much in the past 15 years. To see that evolve has been very, very special.”

Who would you like to see as the next woman inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

“There are a few people. France St. Louis is one, and Cassie Campbell is another.

There are a lot of people who had a lot of impact on our sport. It’s hard to narrow it down because there have been a lot of tremendous players.”

How would you like to be remembered over your career?

“I would hope I’m remembered as a great teammate, and as a player, and a person, I always try to bring out the best in people around me, whether it was on the ice trying to make my teammates better hockey players, or off the ice helping them feel positive and confident.”

Observations

* Danieland Henrik Sedin are so good – both individually and collectively -- that they may hurt their own cause. A split vote could cost them the Hart Trophy.

Let’s face it: Either Swede could qualify as the NHL’s MVP. Not that it would happen but this would be a wonderful time for the league to split the prize and give half to each of the phenomenal Canucks.

Gossip

* How Sidney Crosby handles his playoffs comeback bears scrutiny. A combined decision – including Sid’s handlers as well as Penguins GM Ray Shero – will emphasize discretion as being the better part of valor. A key element to that end has been coach Dan Bylsma’s ability to successfully navigate the Penguins through rough shoals in the home stretch.

* If both Peter DeBoer and Cory Clouston both get the coaching hooks, it would not be a surprise to find DeBoer moving behind the Senators’ bench.

* Doug Weighthas been helping coach Jack Capuano behind the Islanders pine. However, it wouldn’t surprise us if the likeable Weight winds up as an aide to GM Garth Snow (Wrentham, Mass.). Weight would be capable in either role.

* With less than a week remaining in his current tenure as New Jerseycoach, Jacques Lemaire is being bombarded with questions about his future behind the bench. Anyone who claims to know the answer is merely guessing because Jacques-Be-Nimble will return home after consulting with GM Lou Lamoriello (Providence, R.I.).

Then, there’ll be serious discussions with Lemaire’s family before he’ll render a decision. Should he decide to return, it will only be with the Devils. No other teams are under consideration.

* Speaking of crack puckstoppers, we can’t ignore former UMass-Lowell star Dwayne Roloson, whose TampaBaypact expires after this season. Based on what he’s done so far, Rollie, 40, should get at least another season added to his career; and nowhere else but with the Lightning.

Stan Fischler can be reached at FischlerReport@aol.com.