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Gold medalist Brianna Decker joins PHF front office

Brianna Decker won an Olympic gold medal with Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games. (Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

Brianna Decker is joining the Premier Hockey Federation in a part-time advisory role, the league announced Friday.

Widely regarded as one of the best players in the world, Decker is a longtime member of Team USA. She played in the Beijing Olympics but broke her leg and tore ligaments in her ankle during the group stage. She has not played since then, having gone through a lengthy recovery process following surgery.

“Brianna Decker is a one-of-a-kind proven leader on and off the ice,” PHF commissioner Reagan Carey said in a statement. “Her commitment to development has earned her the title of one of the best players in the world, but it’s her dedication to sharing her time, knowledge, and experience with the next generation that makes her such a valuable and respected member of the women’s hockey landscape.

“She has won at every level of the sport, and we’re excited to have her competitive drive onboard with the PHF.”

With the PHF, Decker is looking at her future off the ice, and she told The Athletic on Friday that her on-ice future is up in the air. She recently turned down an invite to the U.S. training camp ahead of the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship, which began Thursday in Denmark.

“I just needed more time mentally and physically from everything that I went through in the spring,” she told The Athletic. “From a playing standpoint, I’ve just been taking time away. Not necessarily being done. Not necessarily saying, ‘Yes, I’m back.’”

In her role with the PHF as team and player development advisor, she will focus on elevating the training, competition and overall league standards while working as a liaison between the league and its players and coaches. She joins former Team USA teammate Kacey Bellamy, who works as a scout and player relations liaison.

Decker also was a member of Team USA when Carey was the general manager for the team.

Decker says that the addition of Carey as commissioner was a selling point for her in joining the league’s front office. Additionally, while she thinks that the PWHPA “has a great vision,” she decided to help make the PHF better.

“(Reagan) brought our U.S. program from where we were to winning an Olympic gold medal,” Decker said. “And so I know her insight and her vision when it comes to (growing the women’s game) is great. We connected and I was like, ‘I want to get involved somehow.’

“I think it’s just been a little bit of a standstill with the PWHPA, and if I have an opportunity to help grow our game, grow the professional women’s hockey game in any way, I am going to do it. This role with the PHF is giving me that opportunity to help out, and so that’s why I jumped on it.”

The PHF announced Wednesday that it has extended its deal with ESPN, which will keep the league on ESPN networks through the 2023-24 season.

The league also announced two more front office hires Friday: Marissa Halligan will serve as the lead operations director, while Nichole Bargo will serve as director of finance.