The following interview with U.S. Women’s Olympic Team star Jenny Potter was conducted from questions submitted by Facebook fans of the USA Hockey Magazine.
How much will you enjoy the challenge of playing against Canada?
Our focus right now isn’t on Canada, but obviously if we do face Canada it’s going to be a great game. They’re a great and talented team, just like we are. That’s what we live for, this competitive spirit.
Do you think the Canadians are vulnerable at this point?
I don’t even know how to answer that because I’m not paying attention to them at this point. I’m really trying to stay in the moment and learn from history to just stay focused on what we need to accomplish.
What you think it will take to beat the Canadians on their home ice?
If we get the opportunity to play Canada in the gold-medal game it will be a great atmosphere. It would be a great game and a great moment for women’s hockey in general. I don’t really think about beating Canada on home ice as much as I think about winning the gold medal. It’s the ultimate greatest feeling.
Do you have any superstitions, and if so, what are they?
I don’t really have any superstitions. I feel that if you prepare yourself and work hard there isn’t going to be anything that will make it come true any easier. It’s just hard work and dedication that helps you to succeed.
Who is your closest friend on the U.S. Women’s Team?
Probably Hilary Knight. She may be the youngest player but we have a good relationship.
Do you feel like the Gretzky of women’s hockey?
Just being mentioned in the same sentence is very humbling. He’s my role model and I was actually fortunate enough to get an autograph from him in ’98. My dad actually sat next to him in the gold-medal game. It’s funny because my dad used to call me ‘Little Gretzky’ when I was growing up. I wouldn’t say I’m like Wayne Gretzky, but he was a great role model and it’s great to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.
What’s it like to be a role model for so many girls and young women playing hockey in the United States and in Canada?
I think it’s great to be a role model and kind of set a standard for young girls in the image that you want to portray. I have a daughter and try represent and hold myself up well and conduct myself well for my country and for girls’ athletics in general. I know how important it is for girls to be involved in sports. It’s just great to get out there and speak to little kids and girls in particular on how important sports are in their life.
What does the all-time U.S. Women’s Olympic scoring record mean to you?
I guess I haven’t really paid attention to it. Obviously it’s pretty special but it’s more special winning a gold medal as a team. Individual awards are great but something that I’ve learned through the years is that it’s great but the greatest thing is being together as a team and winning together as a team, that’s the ultimate greatest feeling.
Did you know that you set the record when you put in that third goal against Russia?
I wasn’t really paying attention to that at that moment. My teammates are all over me and giving me a razzing. But it’s pretty great to score goals in the Olympics but these games don’t mean much if we don’t get to the final. It would great to score the game-winning goal in the gold-medal game, but I really don’t care who scores the goals. That’s what makes this team special is that nobody cares who scores the goals, we just want to win.
If you could play for an NHL team, which team would it be and why?
I would probably play for the Pittsburgh Penguins just because Sidney Crosby plays for them and he’s an amazing player. That’s a really tough question because I would love to play for the Detroit Red Wings because they have some unbelievable players like [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Johan] Franzen. That’s really a tough question. And obviously I want to say the Minnesota Wild because I’m from there and I would love to play with [Mikko] Koivu because he’s unbelievable. So those would be my top three teams.
What are youth thoughts about the NHL creating a women’s professional hockey league like the WNBA?
I think women’s hockey is still in the growing stages. Obviously I would love to see that someday. Right now it’s still in the beginning stages and it’s really tough to start a team. Knowing what women want to do after their college years, but it’s really tough to make a living playing hockey. I love the sport but I have a family and it’s tough to pay bills. It’s really tough for women to foresee that happening any time soon.