During the 2012-13 CWHL season, a familiar face was missing from the Brampton Thunder’s roster. Allyson Fox, a long-time veteran was no longer manning the blue line. Leading into the final game of the 2012-13 CWHL season, her loss was compounded as two of Brampton’s living legends officially announced their retirements; Lori Dupuis and Cherie Piper.
Equally a living legend, Fox was a tremendous builder for women’s hockey in Canada. Having played at the CIS level with York University, Fox was an OUA First Team All-Star in 1997 and a Second Team All-Star in 1996 and 1998 (the year she was also named alternate captain). She would also play with Brampton for the Abby Hoffman Cup (the predecessor to the Clarkson Cup) at the Esso Women’s Nationals in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008. Fox would win the coveted Cup in 2006.
As one of the co-founders of the CWHL, Fox was a vital presence in the league’s formative years. Along with Brampton Thunder teammates Kathleen Kauth and Kim McCullough, the three worked tirelessly to bring the league to reality.
Other co-founders included Sami Jo Small and Jennifer Botterill (who competed with the now-defunct Mississauga Chiefs) and Montreal Stars founder Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux. With the absence of Fox in the 2012-13 season, Breton-Lebreux and Small are the only remaining founders still competing in the CWHL.
Having competed in two Clarkson Cup championship games with Brampton, Fox was an emotional leader for the franchise. Her greatest legacy came in the spring of 2008 as she led Brampton to the first ever CWHL league title (the Clarkson Cup had not existed yet). The following season, she would juggle playing and administrative duties as she also served on the CWHL Board of Directors.
Not having her on the roster for the 2012-13 season was something fans were not accustomed to. Along with long-time Brampton player Molly Engstrom departing for the Boston Blades as a free agent, the impact of this dynamic duo not manning Brampton’s blueline was significant.
Compared to the 2011-12 season, Brampton played three fewer games. Despite the reduction in games, their penalty minute totals increased by 26 minutes in 2013. Without Fox and Engstrom providing experienced play on the blueline, the club’s winning percentage dropped to.458 (compared to .704 in 2011-12).
With the huge number of player vacancies coming this season due to the number of players that will attend centralization camps for Sochi 2014, is it possible that Fox will attempt a comeback? Fans would certainly welcome her back into the fold.
Considering Brampton general manager Jody Katz has now accepted a position in the CWHL front office, Fox’s acumen and knowledge of the game would make her a worthy replacement. Based on her hard work in helping to give the CWHL stability, she is a very valuable asset for the CWHL. Not having her in the league this past season was like apple pie without the ice cream.
For fans of the CWHL, there deserves to be some closure as to Fox’s career. It is only fitting that the franchise takes an opportunity in the future to recognize Fox and her legacy in the league. As one of the league’s co-founders, retiring her jersey number would be a good place to start.