Hockey: Caroline Ouellette says CWHL final a boost for women’s hockey, except lack of French TV

Hockey: Caroline Ouellette says CWHL final a boost for women’s hockey, except lack of French TV

Marie-Philip Poulin, captain of Les Canadiennes de Montreal, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League champions, poses for photos with the Clarkson Cup after a news conference, Wednesday, March 8, 2017 in Brossard, Que..THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz.

BROSSARD, Que. — Caroline Ouellette took a dig at Quebec’s francophone media Wednesday while celebrating the Montreal Canadiennes victory in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League final.

The veteran forward wondered why the final on Sunday in Ottawa, which drew a record audience for the CWHL on English television, was not broadcast by any French-language network.

“Sometimes we feel we’re making headway, but I don’t see why they can’t also show our game on TV in French,” she said. “We’re proud to be francophone Quebecers and we’d love to have the Clarkson Cup final on TV where our families and friends can see it.”

The Canadiennes defeated Calgary 3-1 in the final, avenging a loss to the Inferno in last year’s championship game.

The lack of French TV was the only beef Ouellette had about an otherwise successful season for the league and her team, which was formerly called the Stars but changed its name after forming a partnership with the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL.

The deal brought new exposure to the team, including a game at the Bell Centre and some others before large crowds at the Habs’ suburban training centre.

“Our crowds have been growing every season,” she said. “We played in front of more than 6,000 at the Bell Centre, a moment I’ll never forget.

“But it’s a bit of a vicious circle. We need media to bring people in and we need to bring people in so media gets interested. It’s the same with sponsors, which will be the difference in whether our league succeeds and thrives.”

Ouellette, 37, would not say if she will be back next season. The winner of four Olympic gold medals and five world championships will be an assistant coach for Canada at the worlds that begin March 31 in Plymouth, Mich., and hopes to go into coaching full time one day.

“We’ll see at the end of the summer,” she said.

Most of the squad turned out to the team’s packed news conference, including national team members Marie-Philip Poulin and Lauriane Rougeau. The team will also be feted at a Canadiens game next Tuesday against Chicago.

Poulin, who scored the game-winning goals at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, potted a brace in the Clarkson Cup final as well. That capped a season in which she tied for the CWHL scoring lead, was named league MVP and won the Jayna Hefford Award as the top player as voted by her peers.

She now has now won the Olympics, the world championship and the Clarkson Cup.

“This one was pretty special,” said Poulin, of Beauceville, Que. “From last year when we lost the final, I think we were on a mission.

“We had ups and downs. It wasn’t easy, but we stuck with it, we trusted in the process and it brought us the Clarkson Cup.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press
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