Meghan Duggan is a champion for women’s hockey. She announced her retirement in October 2020, but she’ll be remembered for more than just her impact on the ice.
The USA Hockey captain and 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist fought long and hard for equal pay and treatment for women’s hockey players. Duggan led the fight for the women’s team in 2017 during a negotiation period with USA Hockey that lasted more than 15 months.
“We were able to work through that and move through things together and be on the right side of history,” Duggan said, according to NBC Chicago. “That experience brought us together as a team, it empowered us and it encouraged us to be even better moving forward.”
The holdout culminated with the U.S. women’s hockey team boycotting the coming World Championship that was to be held in Michigan. The women’s team and USA Hockey reached a new four-year agreement, which included the formation of a Women’s High Performance Advisory Group to advance women’s and girls’ hockey, shortly after.
“That is our team’s legacy. We changed our sport,” Duggan wrote in her retirement announcement. “We’re in a climate right now in which women in all industries are starting to stand up and fight for equitable treatment and pay, and I’m so proud of our team for doing just that: paving the way for generations of young girls and women to have the confidence to stand up, speak up, speak out, ask questions and see things through, no matter how uncomfortable or difficult it can get at times.”
Duggan spent 14 years playing with USA hockey, which included three Olympic appearances, and six years playing in professional women’s leagues. She recorded 43 goals and 35 assists during her national team career, and even served as an assistant coach for Clarkson University’s women’s hockey program in 2015. Before her professional debut, she led Wisconsin Badgers’ women’s hockey team to three NCAA championships, and finished her collegiate career with a plethora of honors, including the Patty Kazmaier Award, which is given to the country’s top female hockey player.
In addition to being the spokeswoman for the U.S. women’s hockey team, she also helped found the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association in 2019. After the Canadian Women’s Hockey League folded after the 2019 season, more than 200 players decided to forgo competing in a professional league until demands like better pay and better training facilities were met. The PWHPA wanted to create one cohesive league that had better means for players.
Duggan wrote about her decision to retire in a personal essay for ESPN. In the article, she discussed her family, her hockey career and the impact hockey had on her life.
“I want to continue to make an impact in hockey — working hard to change our sport for the better and taking pride in inspiring the next generation — but now I get to explore what that looks like,” she wrote. “I’ve always dreamt about becoming the first female GM of an NHL team, and who knows? Maybe one day. I’m grateful I have so much in life to look forward to and work toward, but first I want to reflect.”
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