After firing Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins in November, Geoff Molson, Owner, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, hinted at a fresh start marked by sweeping changes that would both modernize and diversify his hockey operations department. He has since delivered on his promise in a big way and the organization took another crucial step forward on Tuesday with the hiring of Marie-Philip Poulin as a player development consultant.
Make no mistake about it, this addition is about much more than just diversity, it is unequivocally, a tremendous hire from a hockey perspective.
The Ideal Candidate
There is no doubt that Poulin would have been actively pursued by other NHL teams once her playing career ended, but it wouldn’t have felt right to see her scooped up by a rival. The Habs made the smart move to ensure that the greatest female hockey player of all time could pursue her next opportunity in her home province with the team she grew up cheering for.
Her incredible list of accomplishments speaks for itself. A three-time Olympic gold medalist and the author of three golden goals, she has cemented her legacy as a hockey legend and one of Canada’s most decorated Olympians. Poulin’s wealth of knowledge and experience will greatly benefit the Habs’ young prospects, the players she is slated to work the closest with.
Most importantly, as Molson put it, she’s a winner. The 31-year-old will have the chance to instill that champion’s mentality in her players during the early stages of their development, teaching them the keys to raising their game when it matters most, how to reach the height of their powers and how to stay at the top once they get there.
As a remarkably skilled player herself, she’ll be able to pass on some of her go-to moves, how she sees the game, the little details in particular, and anticipates plays as they develop thanks to her high hockey IQ. Not to mention that she’s a proven leader who commands respect and who inspires everyone she crosses paths with.
A Win-Win for Both Sides
The advantages of this new role are numerous for Poulin. She asked for it to be a part-time position so that she can continue her playing career and commit to the next four-year Olympic cycle for Canada, which is bad news for her opponents, but good news for hockey fans.
This also means that she’ll be able to continue her vital work with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) and their ongoing pursuit of a viable professional women’s hockey league, a venture that appears on the verge of coming to fruition. Perhaps she can even leverage the support of her new employer to help get the league off the ground.
It’s a way for Poulin to test the waters and explore something new without giving up what she wants to do most at this juncture which is to play the sport she loves. She can get some reps in before committing to the Habs long-term while also giving management the chance to adjust the role to best suit her strengths when the time hopefully comes to make their association more prominent and permanent.
Poulin’s learning curve with the Canadiens is something she’ll embrace with open arms, and it will ultimately make her a better hockey player which will only help improve the quality of the women’s product. The reverse is also true because the men in the sport can learn a lot from their female colleagues. Especially one who is still actively playing at the highest level.
A franchise as prestigious as the Canadiens should leave no stone left unturned when it comes to finding the most qualified people to join their ranks. In Poulin, they have acquired the best women’s player in the world. Someone with a strong work ethic who is caring, humble, passionate, and dedicated who will mentor their young prospects. A match made in hockey heaven that now represents the future of a historic organization in the midst of reinventing itself. Time will tell how much of Poulin’s greatness will rub off on them, but chances are, her impact will be profound and felt for many years to come.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.