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Captain Canadienne

Marie-philip poulin’s drive and determination inspires all

By Jason Santerre

At 6:55 of the second period, Marie-Philip Poulin scores what should be the game-winning goal. It should be the third time in her Olympic career she scores the golden goal. But the fairy tale ending isn’t in the script for Marie-Philip Poulin, her teammates, or the nation that invented hockey.

“Should” isn’t a bad word, but it hurts like hell when it replays in the mind after losing a winner-take-all gold medal game versus your nemesis on the world’s stage. A gold medal match should be decided in sudden death overtime, say the hockey pundits and purists. But, for the first time in Olympic history, a gold medal game was decided in the shootout.

Despite the novelty, the loss was hard to swallow. The silver lining for Ms. Poulin is indeed the silver medal that now joins her two Olympic gold. And now she and her teammates have extra motivation to keep them company over the next four years leading up to the Beijing Games in 2022. In the meantime, we at Montréal enSanté magazine spoke with Marie-Philip Poulin before she left for Seoul.

Montréal enSanté: It’s 2010. Vancouver Olympics. You’re 18. You’ve just won the gold medal. Tell us what goes through your mind when you hear the national anthem?

Marie-Philip Poulin: I felt an immense sense of pride being Canadian and being able to win gold on home soil. It was an out-of-body experience. I felt so proud of my teammates, everything we had worked for had paid off in a huge way. I thought about my family, how much they had sacrificed for me to be standing there in that moment. I wished so badly I could have brought them on the ice with me and given them a piece of that medal. So much goes into building a championship team. It’s the fruit of a lifetime of work.

MES: Why does Canada play its best hockey against the United States?

MPP: They have a great team, one that challenges us to be at our best every time. We are each other’s source of motivation, and I believe the rivalry is what has made women’s hockey become so much better, and why little girls are now developing skills and strength like never before.

MES: Are any of you friendly with members of the U.S. team off the ice? Is that even possible?

MPP: We are. A lot of us have been teammates on college or pro teams. We’re cordial off the ice and have forged friendships. We share the same passion and we’re the best of our kind, so obviously it’s hard to dislike them. But once the puck drops, all love is lost. We hate to lose to them.

MES: Looking ahead, what’s your wish for women’s hockey?

MPP: We’ve come so far already. Last year I was at our league’s All-Star Game in Toronto, and I looked up in the stands during the warm-up and saw little kids wearing hockey jerseys with my name on the back. I thought, “Wow, they’re not wearing a Crosby or McDavid jersey, they’re wearing a woman’s name instead.”

Several companies like Bauer have really stepped up their game in making female players part of their campaigns. We still have a long way to go, however, and I’m hoping to be part of that movement so that the generation after me can be paid to play and not have to work odd jobs just to make ends meet.

MES: What makes a good captain?

MPP: I believe there can be different types of leaders. For me, it’s really about leading by example. I pride myself on putting my best foot forward every single day. I believe it’s the best way to earn your teammates’ respect and build trust. They know they can count on me being ready in big moments because I never took a day or a shift off in the past. I’m not a huge talker, so I let my actions speak for themselves.

MES: What do you love most about your sport?

MPP: Hockey demands strength, agility, finesse, intelligence, and power all in the same 45-second shift. What more could you ask of a sport? People say we’re biased because we’re Canadian, but hockey really is the most beautiful sport in the world.

MES: You must be approached by a lot of girls and young women. What advice do you give them?

MPP: Every day, find something to work on and get better at. Work on your weaknesses but also take the time to perfect your strengths. Once you make it to the top, never take a day off, because staying at the top is the true challenge. Believe in yourself and your dreams because that’s what will push you to go that extra mile. Be proud to be a girl, to skate like a girl, to shoot like a girl. Sweat girl power, because we never have enough of that going around.

MES: Who’s your favourite hockey player and why?

MPP: I would have to say Caroline Ouellette and Jonathan Toews. They both are such amazing and talented leaders that I look up to both on and off the ice. But what Caroline has done for the women’s game is unmatched. She finds a way to challenge the institution that is women’s hockey to make it better at every single level. Her IQ for the game, both on the ice and as a businesswoman, is something we all need to be grateful for because we all reap the benefits of her brilliance and vision.

MES: Can you please play for the Habs? We’re joking . . . kind of.

MPP: Actually, my agent is trying to get them to invite me to a practice with them to promote women’s hockey. I hope it’s something I can do once I’m back from the Olympics. Maybe I can make the roster then. All jokes aside, it’s hard to see the team struggle this year. I’m sure both players and management want the same thing we want, a 25th Stanley cup to parade. You can be sure I’ll be the first one to attend when it happens. In the meantime les Canadiennes are doing great again this year so fans should definitely attend our games as well.

For more information on Les Canadiennes, their captain, and the team’s eventual move to the Verdun Auditorium, visit montreal.thecwhl.com

 

Spring 2018, Vol 10 N°2

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