7Women of Oilersnation

Women of Oilersnation: Kristen Hagg

I’m so excited to feature this next Women of Oilersnation! Although Kristen Hagg lives in enemy territory in Calgary, she’s a born and raised Edmontonian who’s done incredible things in hockey, both on and off the ice. It’s such a pleasure getting to chat with Kristen about her playing career, work in women’s hockey, and her Oilers fandom.

Last week I featured Melissa Blevins! If you missed it, you can read her feature here!

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MEET KRISTEN HAGG

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KYLA: Who are you?! What’s your day job, what are your passions, what’s something interesting about you?

KRISTEN: I am a born and raised Edmontonian, currently living in Calgary with my wife, Krista, our two year old son, Oscar, and our dog, Kirk. In my spare time I enjoy being active and spending time with my family. My wife is a Canucks fan and she is living proof that not all Canucks fans are jerks.

Since 2012, I have been working as a lawyer in Calgary for a firm formerly known as Bryan & Company Calgary – now HMC Lawyers LLP. I have a general civil litigation practice with particular interest in personal injury litigation arising from motor vehicle accidents and occupiers liability. I also act for insurers and insureds on property loss, professional negligence, disability coverage, and subrogated claims. Lately I have been getting more involved in employment related disputes.

My biggest lifelong passion is hockey. While I didn’t start playing organized hockey until I was 10, I was playing in the basement with a plastic stick from the time I was three or four. Cheering for and loving the Oilers was instilled in me from a very early age – not surprising given that I was born in 1983, just in time for the glory years.

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Family has become very important to me over the last couple of years since having a son. Having a two year old can be a real challenge, but it is the greatest thing to ever happen to me. Being a parent is what I am most passionate about now.

Perhaps more “fun fact” than interesting, but in 2006 I was published in the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports journal for a small study I did on “the effect of fatigue on hockey skating mechanics”. I travelled to Taiwan the following year to attend the conference.

My wife says an interesting thing about me is that I like musicals. I am also a Seinfeld fanatic and enjoy watching murder/cult documentaries.

KYLA: Can you take us through how you got into hockey and your journey of playing, being a part of the CWHL, and an advocate for women’s hockey?

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KRISTEN: I cannot even remember how I got into hockey. My parents must have handed me a stick and ball at some point and from then I was hooked. I remember always wanting to play and imagining that I would one day play for the Oilers alongside my favourite player, Jeff Beukeboom. When I was 7, my dad asked if I wanted to play ringette. I had no idea what ringette was, but I said yes. I played for three years before the Edmonton Girls Hockey Association formed. I immediately made the switch. I played EGHA up to age 17.

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I played for Team Alberta at the 1999 Canada Winter Games when I was 15. I joined the U of A Pandas in 2001 and played there until 2006. I was fortunate to be part of a very successful program, winning four national titles, and was just as lucky to play with some wonderful women, several of whom remain my closest friends up to this day.

After graduating, I played a year with the Edmonton Chimos (Western Women’s Hockey League), a year with the Salzburg Ravens (European Women’s Hockey League) and one more year with the Chimos before “hanging them up” in 2009 when I was starting law school. I played rec hockey for six years while I finished school and got started with my legal career. After annoying the hell out of my rec teammates because I was too competitive, I decided to give the CWHL a try. I was with the Calgary Inferno for two seasons. These were not great statistical seasons for me, but I had lots of fun and again gained more friendships along the way. It was also pretty cool skating alongside and against some of the best players in the world.

After “re-retiring”, I wanted to get involved behind the scenes to do whatever I could to improve the player experience. I spent one year as the Assistant general manager and two seasons as the general manager of the Calgary Inferno before the league folded in 2019. The folding of the league coincided with my son being born, so it was a good time for me to take a step back. I joined the Board of the Grindstone Award Foundation within a month of the CWHL folding.

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Prior to the 2018 Olympics, I began providing legal services to the Canadian National Women’s Team in their contract negotiations with Hockey Canada. As a thank you, they brought me and Krista to South Korea to watch the semi-final and final. Heartbreaking shootout loss, but an absolutely amazing experience. I’ve continued advising them up to present and want to keep doing so as long as they’ll have me.

While I was playing, I didn’t give a great deal of thought to equity in women’s sport. We joked about the lights being turned on brighter during Golden Bears practices than during Pandas practices, but no one was stepping things up to the advocate level. After playing in the WWHL and then the CWHL I realized that the conditions for the most elite women’s hockey players in the world were not good enough. I wanted to try to make a difference being in management, but there is only so much you can do to treat the players like pros when you don’t have the finances to support it. Regardless of whether the best women in the world are at the same level as the NHL, it is an amazing product and it will get even better if there is real investment that allows more than just the top 50 players in North America to train full time. Being a keyboard activist is about all I can do at the moment, but I would like to get more involved again if the right opportunity presents itself.

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KYLA: Can you tell us about your work with the Grindstone Award Foundation and their mission?

KRISTEN: I serve on the Board of Directors of Grindstone as Director of Legal. Fortunately, there are very few legal issues to deal with, so I try to contribute in other ways, by providing insight from my past experiences. We are going through a restructuring period and moving forward I am likely to get more involved with procurement and management of sponsorships and partnerships. Getting more significant donors and sponsors will be a game changer for the foundation.

Grindstone Award Foundation was formed to raise money to provide funding to girls that might not otherwise be able to afford to play hockey. We currently provide 25 $500 grants per year. The goal is to increase both the number of grants and the value of the grants as the foundation grows. As someone that came from a reasonably affluent background, I was always able to play and reap the benefits of being active and being part of a team. Hockey has continued to open doors for me throughout my life. I want for all girls, regardless of their background, to have the same opportunities that I did.

KYLA: What’s your favourite Oilers memory?

KRISTEN: The 2006 playoff run was so special. I was living two blocks off Whyte avenue, so my life pretty much revolved around the Oilers schedule for the duration of the run. I was still training for hockey and was working my summer job at the U of A grounds department. I would work every day from 6:30-2:30, spend a couple of hours in the gym, take a nap, and then get ready to watch another game. My roommate at the time and I got lots of giant wrinkly Oilers t-shirts from flats of Molson Canadian. I still have the car flag I bought that summer and hope to be able to keep it in my window for longer than a week next year.

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KYLA: What’s it like to be an Oilers fan in enemy territory?

KRISTEN: It’s honestly not that bad. I wear Oilers gear around and people don’t yell at you. That said, going to games at the Saddledome is kind of rough. Although it is fun because there are always lots of Oilers fans, it’s just not the same. I would like to watch the Oilers play live against a team other than the Flames once in a while!

My office has as many Oilers fans as Flames fans, so although it can be a bit hostile at times, there are plenty of other people in the office I can commiserate with. It was nice for us to be able to pick on the Flames fans this year, although some of us were a bit worried about getting too boastful in fear that we might upset the hockey gods. For all I know some jackass Oilers fan in my office is to blame for the 4-0 sweep against the Jets.

KYLA: What does hockey and being a part of the Oilersnation community mean to you?

KRISTEN: It’s nice to share that level of passion I have for the Oilers with so many others. Oilers fans are a special breed, and we are often misunderstood. When I played on the Inferno, my teammate Brittany Esposito and I would talk Oilers pretty much every practice. Our teammates thought we were insane. While they were all fans of other NHL teams, they could not comprehend how much we cared about the Oilers, or why we would keep cheering for a team that was so terrible.

I enjoy following other fans that keep things light-hearted even when things are going terribly. The Benny Hill Theme Song, the Price is Right loser horn… it makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. We all need each other to stay sane when the Oilers inevitably break our hearts yet again.

CONNECT WITH KRISTEN ON TWITTER & INSTAGRAM!

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her Soul Shot shows women how powerful they are through sport by providing resources, community, and inspiration for all women to live their soul’s truth and take their shot in sports.

Learn more on her Soul Shot’s website, listen to the her Soul Shot Podcast and follow us on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.