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“The First Lady of Hockey,” Marguerite Ann Norris

In 1954, Marguerite Norris made history by becoming the first female chief executive in the National Hockey League. As president of the Detroit Red Wings, she also became the first female to have her name engraved on the Stanley Cup. Known as “The First Lady of Hockey” or “Madame President” around the rink, Norris paved the way for future women in the sports industry. 


Marguerite Norris and Detroit Red Wings, posing with the Stanley Cup, courtesy of @DetroitRedWings / X



Following her father’s passing, she, her sister, Eleanor, and her brothers, James and Bruce, became partial owners of the Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks and several other venues. The siblings divided their shares, leaving Norris and Bruce with the Detroit Red Wings. At age 25, Norris became the first female president in the NHL, with Bruce serving as Vice President. Under her father’s watch, the Red Wings won five Stanley Cups. Norris continued the legacy, winning two Stanley Cups and being the first female to have her name engraved on the Cup. 


Stanley Cup engravings, 1953-54 season, courtesy of @HockeyHallofFame / Facebook



Norris was no stranger to the game when the team was passed on to her, given her background in the business world and that she had grown up in a family that considered hockey “a religion.” Norris shared that she grew up playing outdoor hockey with her siblings and, as the youngest, was always goalie. Prior to her presidency, Norris studied business administration at Smith College and worked for The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation. 


Courtesy of @HockeyHallofFame / Facebook 


During her presidency, there was said to have been a positive change inside Olympia Stadium. She painted the walls with the team's colors and replaced the ushers’ uniforms with red and white ones. She advocated that the arena be more accepting of female fans and that all teams be treated equally and with respect. Norris was ahead of her time, suggesting that televised sporting games were the future and hoped to get the team’s games on television. This is not to say she did not face adversity in her position. Many longtime male employees found it difficult to take orders from and work with a female much younger than them, and would often call her pet names, such as “dearie.” Some questioned her knowledge of the sport to the point that she was not allowed to sit on the Board of Governors. She worked with Jack Adams to take her place and vote according to the signals she would give him during meetings. 


Team photo, courtesy of Detroit Hockey Now.com


After three seasons with the Wings, Norris was replaced by her brother Bruce. She served as Vice President for a brief period before prioritizing her work in the business field and pursuing that full time. She married John J. Rider and together they had four children. The Norris family continued to own the Red Wings for almost fifty years before 1982, when the franchise was bought by Marian and Mike Ilitch.


Many past players and others involved say losing Norris within the organization led to the decline of the Red Wings. Red Kelly recalled that “Marguerite was more than capable in (the team’s) eyes.” Detroit Red Wings legend, Gordie Howe, “found her to be both smart and capable” and added that others within the organization felt the same way. Norris was inducted into the Red Wings Hall of Fame in 1976, but unlike her father and brothers, has never been selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame. 






Edited by Raegan Verhoff

Written by Bella-Rosa Fetelea


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