Poulin discusses position with Canadiens, Dream Gap Tour in Q&A with NHL.com

MONTREAL — One of the top women’s hockey players in the world for over a decade, Marie-Philip Poulin has inspired countless girls and young women to put on their skates, pick up a stick and experience the game that fueled the Canadian forward’s passion to she has excelled since childhood.

Pullen led Canada to three Olympic gold medals (2010 Vancouver, 2014 Sochi, 2022 Beijing) scoring the winning goal each time. In fact, “Captain Clutch” scored twice in Canada’s 3-2 win against the United States in Beijing to become the first female hockey player to score in four straight Olympic finals (she also scored in a shootout loss 3 -2 of the United States states in the Pyeongchang 2018 gold medal game).

A three-time world champion with Canada, Pullen, 31, showed off her considerable skills during the Elite Women’s 3-on-3 match at NHL All-Star Skills 2020 and continues to compete at an elite level while contributing to her efforts in the development of women’s hockey, including playing for Team Harvey’s on the PWHPA Secret Dream Gap Tour.

NHL.com recently caught up with Poulin to talk about being hired as a player development consultant by the Montreal Canadiens in June, the importance of women being hired in hockey operations across the League, Billie Jean King’s involvement with the PHWPA, Poulin’s influence on the game she loves and to hit the open road when it’s time to disconnect from everything else.

What did being hired by the Montreal Canadiens mean to you?

I’m originally from Quebec, so Canadians were a part of my childhood, for sure. And obviously being part of the organization is something that ultimately, maybe in my career, was something. It came sooner than I thought, but it’s pretty awesome. Obviously I’m still playing and it’s a part-time thing, but I learn a lot when I go there and everyone is pretty welcoming. So it was fun to be there and definitely see that different side of hockey.

How did this come about? How did they approach you?

After the (2022) Olympics, I had two phone calls and at some point, I went and met with (Canadiens executive vice president) Jeff Gorton, (general manager) Kent Hughes and all of them. We just sat down to see where I was at and what I wanted to do eventually. I made it clear that playing was still my priority, obviously, and they were very open to that. They just asked me if I wanted to be a player development consultant. It was a great opportunity and it was fun.

Was there any hesitation?

It was definitely uncomfortable, but I think for me, I just needed my time to see if it would fit into my schedule and what I want to do. And obviously it was hard to say no and it was awesome to be a part of it.

During Canadiens training camp, we saw you on the ice with a large group of coaches and advisors, including Vincent Lecavalier. How was the experience for you? What did you get out of it?

I think just the preparation and how much they put in. And hockey is growing every day, how to adapt a little bit of skill, how to change the game and obviously bringing in (director of hockey development) Adam Nicholas and all these people around player development and bringing in different skills is something that I think is very young. And I think being around them on the ice and seeing how they move, how they do things, is a really cool thing. And obviously I’m still a player, but sometimes I’m just in the stands watching them, it’s something that looking at a different skill, okay, I want to try it right away. But it’s fun to watch and maybe from a different angle you’ll want to incorporate it into your game too.

What is it like to see so many women being hired into hockey positions throughout the NHL?

It’s amazing. I think more and more are coming and it’s amazing to see that. It’s not just about women, it’s about hockey knowledge, and that’s what it’s all about. And obviously you’re seeing more women joining NHL organizations and hopefully one of them will be part of the women’s hockey organization, having a league themselves and I think we’re on the right track. But obviously that’s great to see, and it’s not whether you’re a woman or a man, I think it’s about hockey knowledge and I think that’s huge.

Dream Gap appears in the name of this tour. Can you explain what this represents?

Three years ago our league, the CWHL, ended and that was something that happened very quickly. It was during the world championships and as a team, Team Canada and Team USA, we got together to see what would happen. Obviously then, we created the (Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association) where we want to create something sustainable and very professional for all of us. And obviously this has been going on for more years than we thought because we wanted the championship yesterday, but I think every big thing takes a long time. We’ve worked with a lot of great people, like (PWHPA president) Jayna Hefford and Billie Jean King, and people have come in and we’ve got investors helping us. And hopefully it will come next year.

What does having a sports icon like Billie Jean King mean to your organization?

You’ve seen what she’s done for tennis, for women’s tennis. I think the knowledge of one person who changed women’s tennis for everybody, I think is huge. And we trust what we had with them and how hard we work, and it’s been awesome.

You stand on the shoulders of someone like Jayna and all the other great players who have gone before to help build women’s hockey. And I’m sure you have a feeling that the little girls watching you play will one day stand on your shoulders because of what you’re doing now. It must be a huge responsibility and a lot of effort, even away from the rink.

Is. It’s more than just playing, to be honest, the last few years. I think it’s something we’ve struggled with. We worked very hard. I don’t think people see that. Obviously we train hard and play hard, but when we take off that helmet, the job isn’t done. For us, we go out, we have to make time to see the girls, we have to spend time with our fans, we have to get on social media and really talk about it to have people engage with us. And I don’t think people see that. Obviously, we love the game, we’re passionate, and when you see those little girls in the stands and how their eyes are so bright and how excited they are calling all these players’ names, and I think it’s pretty awesome. But it’s a lot. I think we take it as a privilege and it’s been awesome, and obviously we want to create that not only for us but for the next generation.

Where does your love of hockey come from and where do you want to take it from here?

It’s been in me for a long time, since I was a kid, and I can’t get enough of it to be honest.

And it’s funny, like I always told myself, the day I walk into a rink and I’m not going to have fun, that’s when it’s going to be over. But at 31, I come to the rink and that’s my safe place. I come in and you don’t think, you’re in the moment, you just do your thing. You are among friends and I think that is definitely the best feeling. And obviously I hate losing, I’m not going to lie, but that’s part of it. But I think when you look at the big picture, you just realize why you’re doing it and I’ve loved it since I was four years old.

What else is passion for you outside of hockey?

Nothing important. I have an RV so when I have time I like to take it and go outside and have a fire and enjoy the fresh air out there.

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