One of Canada’s most dynamic and creative players, Sarah Vaillancourt retires at 27.
Sarah Vaillancourt made her debut with Canada’s team as an 18-year-old in 2003 and appeared in a total of 107 games with the national team, amassing 45 goals, 53 assists and 98 points. Vaillancourt won Olympic gold in 2006 and 2010, world championship gold in 2007, and silver medals at the 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013 world championships. The Sherbrooke, Que., native is a graduate of Canada’s under-22 program as well, serving as team captain in 2006-07 and helping Canada win gold at the Air Canada Cup in Germany in 2005 and 2007.
Here is an interview done late April via email; she explains the whole story on why she retired at 27.
EE: You started playing with Team Canada as an 18 year old and now you are 27; can you fans give some of the highlights of this period which is almost a decade?
SV: Making the Olympic team for the first time in 2006 was quite the highlight, and participating and wining on home soil during the 2010 Olympics is something I'll always remember. Most importantly, it is the friendships that I've made over the years that I will keep and cherish forever.
EE: You had injuries; abdominal and hip surgery; what else happened in terms of injuries over the years?
SV: 3 surgeries...Nov. 2010 right sport hernia, Jan. 2012 left hip torn labrum, and Nov. 2012 left sport hernia.
EE: How did that impact your decision to retire?
SV: It played a major role in my decision, but my decision wasn't solely based on my injuries/surgeries.
EE: You had such a strong world championship in 2013, many fans would be surprized at your departure at this time? How was the world championship from your point of view and did that experience impact your decision?
SV: I was happy about my world championship, despite our loss in the final game. I knew I was retiring before the start of the tournament, so I went into it enjoying every second of it with my teammates and savoring every second of wearing the Maple leaf on my chest. I'm very grateful that I was able to play one last tournament with my teammates and in front of our amazing Canadian fans.
EE: You said in HC press release; “While it was difficult for me to come to this decision to retire, I know that there are great challenges and opportunities ahead for me.” Why did you make this decision now?
SV: Because an Olympic year is extremely demanding physically. I didn't want to take the risk of going through what I underwent post the 2010 Olympic year. (3 years of surgery) I didn't want to have to quit my amazing job here in Sherbrooke and I didn't want to have to postpone my Master's degree in education. Basically, I wasn't ready to make the sacrifices that are involved when moving to Calgary for 7 months.
EE: What are the challenges ahead of you?
SV: Completing my Master's degree in Education and having children within the next few years with my girlfriend. We are also in the midst of building our house, and I'm very thrilled about that!
EE: Are you still working for the sports school?
SV: Yes and I'm planning to get even more involved next year.
EE: Will you play for Montreal team next year? So still involved in hockey?
SV: Yes definitely and I'm very excited about it. We will still have a great team next year, and I'm looking forward to playing hockey as a hobby…(smile icon here)
EE: You have dreamed about playing for TC and realized the dream but it seems like a short time to fans who love to watch you playing with such imagination and skill.
SV: Yes well I had always said that I was going to retire when I was 28. Initially my plan was to retire post-Olympics, but I'll be 28 on May 8th, so I guess I wasn't too far off. I have accomplished what I wanted while playing for the national team and I've had the chance to live my dream for close to a decade, but I'm not one to linger and repeat things over and over again. I love new challenges; therefore, I'm ready for new ones and I'm ready to have a family with my girlfriend.
EE: What will you miss about the game and the team?
SV: I will miss my teammates. I will miss playing, struggling, laughing, working hard, winning, and competing with them. However, I know that what we've accomplished together and the friendships that we've made will last forever. I will miss wearing the Canadian Maple Leaf on my heart and going to battle on the ice with my teammates. I will miss playing in front of our wonderful Canadian fans. I will miss representing my country. But I'm happy that I can say that I will miss these things because that means that I've had the PRIVILEGE of experiencing them all. I feel extremely lucky, and even luckier to still be able to play hockey for more years.
In mid June WINIH will be posting its regular listing of hockey schools in North America with national team players either hosting or participating in the schools. A separate international hockey school section will also arrive at that time. Our apologies for the delay; we have been gathering updates and not all of them have arrived.
If you know of any schools or programs please write to EEtue@WINIH.com.
Halldorson and Jay Named Assistant Coaches for U.S. national team. February 14, 2012
Laura Halldorson and Bobby Jay have been named assistant coaches for the U.S. National Team that will compete in the 2012 World Championship from April 7-14, in Burlington, Vermont. Jay and Halldorson join head coach Katey Stone on the coaching staff of Team USA.
Hallordorson is one of the most successful coaches in women's hockey history. She led the University of Minnesota women's ice hockey program to three NCAA Division I national championships (2000, 2004, 2005) and became the only women's ice hockey head coach to lead a program to five consecutive NCAA Frozen Four appearances (2002-06). In her 11 years at the helm of Minnesota, she amassed a 278-67-22 overall record for a .787 winning percentage. She also served seven years as head coach of the Colby College women's ice hockey team and finished her 18-year head coaching career with a 337-142-31 overall record. Halldorson, who was a member of the 1987 U.S. Women's National Team, served as a coach at USA Hockey's Women's National Team Program winter camp this past December in Blaine, Minn.
Bobby Jay's coaching experience includes time behind the bench in the International Hockey League (IHL), American Hockey League (AHL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He served two stints as an assistant coach of Harvard University's men's ice hockey team, a position he held from 2009-11 and 2004-06. He was also an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning's IHL affiliate, the Detroit Vipers, and continued his coaching career with the Los Angeles Kings' AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. He joined the U.S. Women's National Team Program in August of 2011 and has served as an assistant coach at the 2011 Four Nations Cup in Nykoping, Sweden; in addition, he served as a coach for USA Hockey's Women's National Team Program winter camp this past December in Blaine, Minn. and at the U.S. Women's National Team Festival in August in Blaine, Minn.
Klára Chmelová is a 17 year old Czech Republic hockey export learning the game in Canada. According to Jim Craig who helped to manage the Czech team she is one of the future stars of the game. Here is her interview as part of our series on teams and players who leave their country to learn the game. Still learning English, she answered these questions with help from staff at the Canadian International Hockey Academy in Rockland, Ontario where she is studying and playing hockey.
Q: How long have you played on national team?
A: 3 years
Q: Awards and highlights on national team?
A: Won 4th place in Sweden in Under 18 World Championship.
Q: How did you get involved in hockey?
A: When my brother played, I would play with him.
Q: What do you love about playing the game?
A: Nothing specific, I like everything.
Q: What were the challenges to play hockey in your country as a girl…
A: I can play on the national team but we don’t have very many girls who play hockey. In America there are more girls.
Q: What do your teammates call you?
A: They call me Klarn.
Q: What do your parents think of how the game has progressed?
A: For my parents it’s education and then hockey. I will play hockey probably during my studies at university.
Q: What was your favourite experience in the last major event you participated in?
A: My favorite experience is here, where I meet a lot of new people and experience a different culture.
Q: What do you think of other teams… in the world competition?
A: All teams are very valuable but more competition is needed against USA and Canada.
Q: Do you want to play in another country?
If yes why?
A: I would play for Canada because I would get some experience which would be good for my hockey life. But I would like to stay in the Czech Republic.
Q: What is a typical day at CIHA?
A: School starts at 8am and ends at 3:30. During school we have practice and break for lunch. After school we have usually off ice training. After training we have supper and after we have study hour. We don’t have a lot of free time; it is not boring.
Q: What is a challenge now for women in your country?
A: We would be in the Olympic Games in Russia if we had won the Division 1 championship
Elizabeth Etue wrote a women's hockey column for The Hockey News from 2006-2008. Here are stories on two coaches from Canada and Sweden.
Keep It Light Coach's Quest
November 27, 2007 issue The Hockey News.
Peter Smith, Canada’s newest national women's team coach, waxed poetic about his young squad this season. "The younger players bring g a sense of fearlessness," Smith said. "They haven't thought of the consequences, so they an energetic innocence."
He likes the combination of skills and experience the veterans add, plus the "renewed energy and excitement of the young players." Smith uses humour to keep the team relaxed. "Players play their best when they're happy, "he said. "We use video a lot and one time we did a skit about one coach driving a bus making it look like he ran over the other coaches."
Peter Smith has been head coach of the McGill Martlets since 1999. Smith’s team has won two gold, a pair of silvers and four bronze medals at the Cdn college championships. He has been involved with Team Canada as a coach since 2005
Aiming High for Vancouver.
The Hockey News column November 13, 2008
There is no question that Sweden will be the team to watch in the countdown to the Olympics. Sweden won its first international game 2-1 against Canada at the recent 4 Nations Cup. According to coach Peter Elander the win against Canada was part of a long term plan. "We dared to attack," says Elander, "We dared to be a lion not a lamb. We took more and better shots and that created energy in the team."
That energy and attitude is part of the strategy heading towards the Vancouver Olympics. "The players believe in our plan," confirms Elander, "If you can do something once, you should be able to do it
again and again. Our goal is to be the hardest working team all the way to 2010."
Sweden lost in overtime to Finland at the Vancouver Olympics coming fourth. Peter is in his second year at University of North Dakota as associate head coach. He spent 9 years as head coach of Team Sweden winning two Olympic medals including beating the USA for a silver in 2006.