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Brianna Decker will join the Premier Hockey Federation, but not as a player.
Decker, a noted Team USA veteran who broke her leg at the Beijing Olympics, accepted a part-time advisory position with the PHF, the only professional women’s hockey league in North America. The league is expected to officially announce her addition to the front office on Friday morning, among other new hires.
Decker, 31, is one of the best women’s hockey players in the world and one of the most decorated. She is a six-time world champion, Olympic gold medalist, NCAA champion, and Patty Kazmaier winner for best female college hockey player. She is the biggest name to join the PHF, albeit not on the ice, since the formation of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association in 2019.
Decker has not played since his injury during Team USA’s opening game at the 2022 Olympics, where he broke his leg and tore ligaments in his ankle, requiring surgery. Decker said she turned down an invitation to the United States training camp ahead of the 2022 Women’s World Championship that begins Thursday in Denmark because she needed more time after a long and difficult process.
His future on the ice is unclear.
“I just needed more time mentally and physically from everything I went through in the spring,” Decker said. the athletic. “From a game standpoint, I’ve been taking some time off. It’s not necessarily being done. Not necessarily saying, ‘Yes, I’m back.’”
Her official title with the PHF is Team and Player Development Advisor; she will focus on raising training, competition and overall league standards. Decker explained that she will work as a liaison between the players and coaches and the league, gathering information and feedback from those parties and moving up the ladder to help the league grow and help players move to the next level in their professional careers.
Decker will join former Team USA teammate Kacey Bellamy, player relations and scout liaison, and former Team USA General Manager Reagan Carey, now PHF Commissioner, in the front office. of the league.
Carey, who was named league commissioner in April, was the initial selling point for Decker wanting to work with the league, he said.
“(Reagan) brought our US program from where we were to winning an Olympic gold medal,” Decker said. “So, I know her insight and her vision when it comes to (growing the women’s game) is great. We connected and I was like, ‘I want to be involved in some way.’”
Decker previously played in the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, the National Women’s Hockey League, now called the PHF, and was a member of the PWHPA from the group’s inception. Decker says the PWHPA “has a great vision,” but she has decided to help try to improve the PHF.
“I think it’s been kind of stuck with the PWHPA, and if I get a chance to help grow our game, grow the game of professional women’s hockey in any way, I will,” she said. “This role at PHF gives me the opportunity to help, which is why I jumped in.
“If there were ways to help grow the game professionally in other leagues, obviously I would want to help too. But I felt this was a good time to get on PHF. I hope I can make a difference not only for the players, but also in the league as a whole.”
Decker’s primary focus will continue to be Minnesota prep powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary’s, where she is an Associate Head Trainer and Special Advisor to the program. Decker played at Shattuck more than 10 years ago and said “this school changed my life.”
She says she’ll still be in touch with players, coaches and league staff remotely and, being in Minnesota, she’ll be able to spend time at Minnesota Whitecaps games or practices.
(Photo: Kyle Terada/USA Today)