In the modern game, no goaltender was as influential as Kim St. Pierre. Having captured three gold medals in the Winter Games, St. Pierre was also the winning goaltender in the first-ever Clarkson Cup championship game. Having retired in 2012 as the all-time winningest goalie in IIHF women’s hockey competition, her impact to women’s hockey in Quebec, and subsequently Canada, was akin to Jacques Plante in men’s hockey with the Montreal Canadiens during the early decades of the post World War II era.
Although St. Pierre has not played in three years, she has not walked away from the game. In addition to inspiring as a public speaker and raising two young children, St. Pierre has also provided remarkable insight for Radio-Canada (the French equivalent of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for its women’s ice hockey coverage at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, working alongside former coach Daniele Sauvageau, currently working as the general manager for Les Carabins de Montreal.
In addition to providing goaltending instruction at the second annual Caroline Ouellette Hockey Festival, St. Pierre provided many of the jubilant players with a fond experience by participating in trophy presentations, only adding to the elated feelings of triumph for the proud players.
While the familiarity of the rink resulted in the rekindling of many fond and treasured memories, which subsequently set the stage for the world class career that followed, St. Pierre was very happy to make new memories for a new generation of players, eager to follow in her accomplished footsteps.
“It is incredible what Caro has accomplished in just three days. She is capable of gathering so many girls, from novice to peewee. When I started, there were not that many girls playing. Today, we have all-female tournaments. The hard work that went into this event, the game will develop greatly.
When I grew up, I wanted to play in the NHL. To see these girls today, it is amazing to see that they want to be like us. Many girls are playing today and it is incredible to think that I am a pioneer.”
Heading into 2016, St. Pierre only adds to her post-playing legacy with a unique opportunity. In the aftermath of the Festival, she was part of a remarkable hockey trinity, consisting of Ouellette and Marie-Philip Poulin, which collaborated to select a Pee-Wee All-Star Team.
Such a selection brought with it a chance to help create history. The All-Star Team consists of an all-female team that shall compete at the world renowned Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament from February 10-21, 2016. Said team shall compete in the Pee-Wee AA boys division.
Led by head coach Valerie Bois, St. Pierre shall serve on the coaching staff alongside Ouellette and Poulin. In reflecting on the selection process, it was a humbling yet enlightening experience for St. Pierre, who gained a new appreciation for the sometimes difficult job of assembling a team,
“It made me realize how hard it is for coaches to pick a team. My perspective on the game definitely changed. We all came together. Although the top people may have been easy to select, picking the rest of the team made me realize what coaches have to go through in an Olympic year. It was very difficult but I was so happy that Caro asked me to help pick this team.”
During the Festival, St. Pierre also had the opportunity to stand between the pipes in an exhibition game, opposing several featured members of Les Canadiennes, a team that she once led to three Clarkson Cup championships when the club went by the sobriquet Stars. As a side note, current members of Les Canadiennes such as Leslie Oles, Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau played alongside St. Pierre as teenagers during the early years of the CWHL.
“I retired in 2012 and I have not played in three years. Today, I was invited me to play (in the exhibition game) and I was stressed a bit (laughs). After the first period, I told some of them, ‘You girls are so good.’
The game continues to improve year after year. To see Marie-Philip Poulin join the team this year, back with the franchise, I am glad. I think she took it easy on me in the game (laughs).
I have played all my life at a high level. To come back and get dressed and play that kind of team like Les Canadiennes, it just brings back great memories.”
From legendary player to broadcaster and now coach, St. Pierre has become a renaissance woman in the game. Through it all, the common thread is one that has always seen her maintain a very high standing as an exceptional role model. Regardless of the outcome at the Quebec Pee-Wee tournament, the presence of St. Pierre, along with Ouellette and Poulin is destined to positively shape the promising futures of the players involved, providing them with the opportunity to learn at the feet of legends, whose careers were all defined by a love of the game and a sincerity to see it reach new and unprecedented heights.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from: http://www.kimstpierre.com/