The Hockey Hall of Fame has taken a great step forward in calling two women, Angela James and Cammi Granato, to its pantheon. The elevation of these stars was necessary and overdue, but there is still much work to do.
Until the creation last year of a separate ballot for women players, no woman, from any background, had been chosen. Yesterday, the Hall chose well: Ms. Granato, an American who played university hockey with the Concordia Stingers, was known for her scrappy style, and led the U.S. Olympic team to gold in the 1998 Games. Ms. James, now 45, scored 25 goals in 25 international games. She never got to play in the Olympics, but she led Canada to victories in four world championships.
A sport's maturity is reflected, in part, by the personalities it creates. Canada has them in spades; younger greats like Hayley Wickenheiser and Kim St.-Pierre will soon await the Hall's call.
Despite such recognition, the women's game faces considerable challenges. There is an unacceptable gulf in quality of play between North America and the rest of the world. That threatens the sport's Olympic status and limits its reach.
In Canada, the number of registered women hockey players is approaching 100,000, from only 30,000 13 years ago. But the game will need to go beyond the stars, and beyond our borders, to keep growing.