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Canadian women’s hockey star Hayley Wickenheiser retires

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Hayley Wickenheiser has retired from hockey after 23 years on Canada’s women’s team.

The 38-year-old Wickenheiser, from Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, announced her retirement Friday.

Wickenheiser is Canada’s career leader with 168 goals and 211 assists in 276 games. She won four Olympic gold medals and seven world titles and was the most valuable player of the Olympic women’s hockey tournaments in 2002 and 2006.

She was the first woman to score a goal in men’s professional hockey when she played in Europe.

Penguins home favorites against Blackhawks in marquee Wednesday contest

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With neither team trending upward of late, bettors might want to stick to playing the total when the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins face off on Wednesday.

Although Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh are on a three-game losing skid, the Penguins are -125 moneyline favorites against the +105 underdog Blackhawks with a total of six for Wednesday night, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Penguins are 7-3 in their last 10 games as a home favorite, but have dropped their last two at home. The Blackhawks, led by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, are 8-2 in their last 10 games as a road underdog but have dropped three of four overall.

One strong trend: Each of these teams is capable of getting into a trading-chances game that can resemble a track meet on ice. The total has gone over seven of the last eight games where Chicago was an underdog on the road. The total has gone over eight of the last nine games where Pittsburgh was favored at home.

The Blackhawks are 48-21-7 on the season, including a 6-4 mark across their last 10 games. Although neither veteran practiced, both defenseman Duncan Keith and right winger Marian Hossa are expected to be in the lineup. Kane has been relatively productive recently with three goals and five points in the last five games, even though he and left winger Artemi Panarin are adapting to having rookie center Tanner Kero between them with Artem Anisimov out of the lineup.

Corey Crawford will get the start for the Blackhawks. Crawford has a 2.50 goals-against average and .923 save percentage so far this month.

The Penguins are 46-18-11, but only 5-5 across their last 10 games. While Crosby is having a MVP-caliber season with 42 goals, a plethora of injuries has caught up to Pittsburgh of late. Star center Evgeni Malkin seems unlikely to play after not practicing on Tuesday.  Defensively, Pittsburgh is minus Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, Kris Letang and Olli Maatta. Typically, they generate enough offensive zone time and scoring chances to keep the depleted blueline from being a problem.

Crosby should have a boost from having left winger Conor Sheary (lower body) rejoin the lineup on Wednesday. Their linemate Jake Guentzel (concussion) is unlikely to play for at least a week. Penguins right winger Phil Kessel is mired in a March slump with one goal in 14 games this month.

Marc-Andre Fleury started the last time Pittsburgh played Chicago, on March 1. Matt Murray gets the bulk of the work for the Penguins, who are 7-3 in their last 10 home games in March.

The total has gone over in six of the Penguins’ last seven home games against Central Division teams, with one push, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

USA Hockey, women’s players to meet Monday in Philadelphia

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USA Hockey and representatives of the women’s national team will meet Monday to discuss a wage dispute that could lead to players boycotting the upcoming world championships.

John Langel, a lawyer for the players, tells The Associated Press that they’ll meet with USA Hockey officials in Philadelphia two days before the scheduled start of training camp. Players announced Wednesday they’d boycott camp and the tournament unless significant progress is made in negotiations on what they hope is a four-year contract.

The International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship begins March 31 in Plymouth, Michigan. The U.S. is the defending champion and has won six of the past eight world championships.

USA Hockey and players traded barbs Friday over demands but agreed to meet to further discussions.

Players are seeking a deal that pays them outside the six-month Olympic period. USA Hockey has said it is not in the business of employing players but is still hoping the players picked for the world championships are on the ice when it begins.

Standout forward Hilary Knight, who is expected to attend the meeting after playing in the National Women’s Hockey League final Sunday, said Friday that it was her hope that USA Hockey would “reach out to our lawyers and present something that’s worth sitting down to the table for.”

After players called numbers released by USA Hockey “patently false,” fellow star Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said, “I just think they need to come to the table and let’s talk about it.”

Players have said USA Hockey pays them nothing outside the Olympic period and $1,000 a month for the six months leading up to the Games.

Knight, Lamoureux-Davidson and twin sister Monique Lamoureux-Morando, captain Meghan Duggan, Kacey Bellamy and Kendal Coyne are scheduled to take part in the meeting on the players’ side. A USA Hockey spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for who will represent the organization at the meeting Monday.