Photo By Michael Hetzel
A year ago at this time, Madison Packer was ready to retire from pro hockey. But as the 2017-18 season approached, she had a change of heart – a good thing, because she went on to lead the league in goals, become a finalist for the NWHL’s Most Valuable Player Award, and win the Isobel Cup with the Metropolitan Riveters.
This spring, retiring is the last thing on her mind. With the free agency period opening this Friday, June 1, Packer confirmed over the weekend that she intends to play her fourth season in the NWHL and with the Rivs.
“I’d like to return to the league and play for the Riveters,” said Packer. “I have enjoyed my time and teammates in New Jersey and hope a good chunk of that group returns as well. Health-wise I feel great. I had surgery (a year ago) and came out of it feeling the best I had in a while. The surgery immediately made a difference for me, which was also a factor in my decision to come back last September.”
The combination of having a spectacular, Cup-winning season with the Riveters, along with the advancement of the league – including the Riveters aligning with the New Jersey Devils of the major men’s professional league – are among the factors in Packer’s quick decision to play next season.
“Women’s hockey is growing rapidly and the NWHL and NWHLPA have done a great job of taking care of the players and getting us in front of the right crowds and right markets,” Packer said. “Dani Rylan and Hayley Moore did a great job last season. It was truly my most enjoyable year in the league. As the league grows and time goes on, they learn a little more and are making a lot of good moves for the future of the league and the sport.”
The 5-9 forward from Michigan, who was a member of the U19 Little Caesars hockey team in Detroit, scored 10 goals in 12 regular season games last season. Over three years with the Riveters, the 27-year-old Packer is 21-17-38 in 45 games.
At Wisconsin from 2010-2014, Packer was 46-58-104 in 146 games and won the NCAA championship with the Badgers in 2011. During her senior year, she was named to the All-WCHA Academic Team. She also won gold with Team USA at the 2008 and 2009 IIHF U18 World Championships.
Photo By Matthew Raney Photography
MORE FROM MADISON PACKER
On winning Isobel in Season 3 with the Riveters:“It was great to win with that group, and with Chad Wiseman as the coach. Being there from the first season, it was incredible to see the growth of the league.”
Her Plans for Days with the Cup:“I will have it from July 2-5. My family has a big get-together every year on the 4th of July up at our lake house in Charlevoix, MI. My brother’s birthday is on the 4th of July so we will be having a little party with the Cup, celebrating with friends and family!”
The Challenge of Defending Iz:“Every year you start the season wanting to win. Obviously there will be extra motivation behind having won last season, but everyone wants to win. That’s why we play. Defending last year’s win will maybe make our journey a little more difficult. But I believe once the team is put together, the previous season kind of goes away and winning the 2019 championship becomes its own task.”
On expansion to Minnesota:“Minnesota is a great place to expand the NWHL’s reach. They’ll have a solid team. It’s great to have the Whitecaps join the league. We played them in some exhibition games during the inaugural season, and they were a great team.”
Packer’s Pick for Next Expansion Market:“It would be great to have a team in Detroit. There are great hockey fans in and around Detroit. It could be a good opportunity to explore at some point.”