Tight-knit Les Canadiennes Group Relish Clarkson Cup Victory

Canadiennes Star Players Celebrate Championship Win and Reflect on Their Future

  • Les Canadiennes’ captain Marie-Philip Poulin spray teammates with champagne in the locker room after the team’s championship win. Courtesy Chris Tanouye / CWHL

Les Canadiennes’ mantra has always been about how the team comes first.

Never was that refrain more evident than following the team’s thrilling 3-1 win over the Calgary Inferno in Sunday’s Clarkson Cup final at the Canadian Tire Centre.

“It’s like my second family,” said captain Marie-Philip Poulin. “To be able to win that together is something special.”

“It’s so amazing to do it with Les Canadiennes,” said goaltender Charline Labonté. “They are some of my best friends for the past 10-20 years. We wanted to do this together.”

Long after the final horn had sounded, players celebrated with great joy. There were hugs, high-fives, tears of joy, even a ceremonious dance at center ice. It spoke to the camaraderie and affection each member of the organization has for each other.

“It might be corny, but love is stronger than anything and that’s what we have on our team,” said forward Caroline Ouellette. “From our coaching staff to all of our players, we are playing for one another.”

Les Canadiennes are a veteran group, with six players over the age of 30. The most respected of the bunch is Ouellette. Sunday’s Clarkson Cup title was her fourth as a member of Les Canadiennes.

The 37-year-old has also won four Olympic gold medals with Team Canada. Poulin was honoured to win in her company, so much so that she got down on one knee and proposed the cup to her linemate following the contest.

“Caroline means so much to me, not only as a hockey player but as a person,” said Poulin. “Having the chance to win with her tonight was really special and emotional. She’s helped me so much in my career.”

The game may have marked the end of an era within the Canadiennes organization. Ouellette has taken on an increased workload behind the bench.

She serves as an assistant coach with the Concordia Stingers women’s hockey program. She will also act as an assistant on Team Canada’s coaching staff at the upcoming Women’s World Hockey Championships, to be held in Plymouth, Michigan.

Ouellette prefers to mull over her options during the off-season before making any announcement as to her future as a professional hockey player.

“We’ll see after the summer how I feel,” said Ouellette. “It’s truly a pleasure to go to the rink every day and play with my teammates. We have so much fun together, on and off the ice.”

The same fate may be in store for defender Julie Chu and Labonté. Chu is the head coach of the Stingers women’s hockey team and has played sporadically this season as her focus shifts primarily to her coaching duties at Concordia.

Labonté had long sought a Clarkson Cup championship, the one major title missing from her collection. Now that she has won it, the 34-year-old may choose to hang up the skates for good.

The pending retirement of some of Les Canadiennes’ most recognizable faces made it all the more imperative that the team win now.

“We won this cup for all those veterans that have been there for awhile,” said Poulin. “They helped grow the team. They took a lot of the new recruits under their wings. Having a chance to play with them was really special”

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