Caroline Ouellette was the assistant Captain for Canada’s Olympic team. She also played and coached at University of Minnesota Duluth. Here is an update on her smart new web site: Athletic Hub and her hockey life in the 2010/11 season. See her full profile: http://winih.com/player/canada/172
Elizabeth Etue: Tell me about Athletic Hub which you and Kim St. Pierre launched in October 2010.
Caroline Ouellette: We have about 300 athletes on the website so the response has been incredible since we have only started a few months ago. There is a need for the service in Canada and also in Europe which is our next target. It’s been difficult to market the website as much as we would like because we are in hockey season but despite that we are very happy with the turn out. www.Athletichub.com
EE: What are the long term plans?
CO: The next step is to translate everything in French. We have also asked former US college players or coaches to help us translate some documents into Finnish, Swedish and Russian. We will try to target other countries to hopefully help Europeans athletes
EE: How will the site make money down the road?
CO: We are planning on offering 2 types of profiles, A basic one that will remain free, and a gold one that will include the possibility to post, video, pictures and transcripts. The Golden profile will be $10 a month and athletes pay as they go with the possibility of cancelling anytime they wish. Our dream is to find sponsors so our profiles could remain free and that is another challenge to build a good business proposal plan so we can approach companies to sponsor us.
EE: Besides hockey what else are you doing?
CO: Athletic Hub requires quite some work to get known so we do a lot of school visits or speak to teams in different sports. I am also in the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) Olympian ambassador program since October and I have really loved my experience with RBC. It is a great organization and I have learned skills that will help me in my professional career after hockey. I do public speaking on my Olympic experiences to RBC employees and their clients talking about settings goals, perseverance, having a vision, teamwork. It is an incredible opportunity to grow our game as I get to speak about our challenges and successes.
Finally I work with 2 teams where I teach practices, Kuper Academy and Cégep Édouard Montpetit. It has been great to work with those 2 very talented teams doing my favorite part of coaching, being on the ice with the athletes. I have also helped a girls minor hockey association in the West Island (in Montreal) with their training camp earlier this season. I would like to start a camp this summer for elite players 15 years old and up where we (Team Canada players) would also skate in. I am working on developing the plan right now. I love coaching but coaching made me realize that I love being a player even more and that coaches work long hours. The best life is really to be an athlete!
EE: You have always been interested in police work, is that still on the horizon?
CO: Yes it is still something I consider but I have also loved coaching at the university level. For now, I want to finish my playing career with hopefully participation at the 2014 Olympic Games and then I will consider the possibilities I will have at that time.
EE: What has this first draft year been like in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (3 teams in Ontario/1 in Montreal & 1 in Boston) CWHL with all the changes last summer?
CO: I think this is the best calibre we have ever had. The 5 teams are very competitive. I am glad to see Dani Rundqvist (Swedish player on the Burlington roster) in our league and I truly hope we can find a way to attract more Europeans players in the CWHL. I really have the vision of this league becoming our NHL. We need to grow the calibre of women’s hockey internationally and the best way of doing this is to all play together! We still unfortunately face a lot of challenges such as the difficulty to find reasonable ice time at night to practice. Most our players work full-time so it is challenging to travel as much as we do.
EE: What has the response been from Montreal fans?
CO: We have had the most fans this season because of the great work of our GM Megan Hewings and her staff Fiona Robinson and Hélène Lapointe who have worked very hard to market our games and reach out to the media. Recently we had a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Association and we played in front of 800 fans and raised almost $7,000! It has incredible. Many media came to the game and we received excellent media coverage for our league.
EE: How much do players have to pay in the CWHL this year?
CO: No fee to play although we are missing money to finish the season so I am not sure if it might change. In the past, we paid $1,000 each to play. On the road, we have to pay for food.
EE: What do you think the chances are that the CWHL will get to professional status with paid players in the new few years?
CO: In order to do that we would really need the help of the corporate world and specifically the NHL could be outstanding to help us market our league and gain credibility. I dream of an association between the NHL and the CWHL just like the NBA and the WNBA. Perhaps the NHL would not make money at first but I think there is a lot of potential for our league and a large fan base that loves hockey but cannot afford to go to NHL games but would appreciate discovering the women’s game. Still today so many fans tell us after the game that they had never seen a women’s hockey game live and they loved it and will come back!
EE: How does the future look for you re the national team? You are now 32. Is Sochi 2014 on your wish list?
CO: I am 31 ha-ha! Yes Sochi is on my target list. One year at a time. We will see. Right now I am healthy and I still love the game so much. I love to train and try to improve little things that can help me stay at the higher level. I really appreciate the opportunity to play for Canada. I realize that the young players are so good and that it will be a challenge for me to make it in 2014 but hopefully my experience can help me
EE: If you could work at your ideal job what would it be?
CO: Professional hockey player! I would do anything for that life!
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) wants international players on its rosters but so far only one non-North American player has made the roster. Danijela Rundqvist is one of the top scorers on the Swedish national team and is also playing the 2010-11 season with the Burlington Barracudas in the CWHL. Since the league does not pay its players it is a significant decision to leave both work and family to play in Canada. Danijela answered some questions for WINIH about her new life living in Burlington, Ontario.
Q. Why did you decide to play in Canada?
A. I´ve been playing in AIK (a team in Stockholm) for the past 11 years, and all my 14 years as a hockey player in Sweden. I wanted to do something new, something that developed me as a ice hockey player and human.
Q. Where are you living and are you working?
A. I am living with a family in Burlington, my Canadian family: my mom Fran, dad Ted and my little brothers Rhys, Jared and Cade. Hockey is my work.
Q. Was getting a visa a problem to play hockey here?
A. I didn´t need a visa because I would not earn any money, I can be here as a tourist for 6 month. When I came to Canada I got a paper in my passport that says that I can play for the Canadian hockey league for the whole season. I think the league have to help international players better with their visa if they want us to work or do our studies. It is a lot of work.
Q. Did you have friends or family here?
A. I had some friends here in the Toronto area before I came.
Q. When did you arrive?
A. I arrived 17th of September.
Q. What is your impression of Canada?
A. My impression of Canada is great; I love the interest in hockey here! All the nice people and Ikea (smiley face)
Q. What is your opinion on the calibre of play in CWHL?
A. The calibre of the players in the league is very high, so that gets the quality of the play very high in the league. I am not surprised, it´s what I expected.
Q. What do your Swedish coaches on the national team think about you playing here?
A. My new national coach, Nicklas Högberg, is very happy for me. He supports me 100%.
Q. Will you play for Sweden in the worlds in 2011?
A. I will play for Team Sweden in the worlds 2011, as long as I work hard and stay healthy.
Q. What has been the most fun so far living in Canada?
A. Most fun…hmm…that I got drafted by Burlington and that I made the team! And I met a lot of wonderful people here that will be my friends for life.
Q. What has been most surprizing?
A. Most surprizing is that the teams in this league don’t practise as much as my team back home. We had 2 practises a day with AIK, even though all of the players had to work.
Q. Have you met anyone Swedish here?
A. I met a lot of Swedish friends here; I met them both in Toronto and at my place in Burlington. I often eat dinner or lunch with them when I see them.
Q. Any advice for players who want to play in Canada?
A. It costs a lot and a lot of work to get here. But if you want to play against the world’s best players, this is the place to be! The league will develop and grow and get better from here.
To read more about Danijela Rundqvist go to her blog: www.danijelarundqvist.blogspot.com
:Or the following info at: http://www.winih.com/sites/default/files/PDF/Short_Facts%20Swedish%20players.pdf
Here are some quick stats from her Swedish National team:
Born: Stockholm Sept. 26 1984
Height: 5'10 /178m, Weight: 165 lbs /74.83 kg
Position: Forward Shoots: Left
Club: AIK IF First club: Kälvesta IoF
National games: 175 games prior to 2010 Olympics
Goals totally in Team Sweden: 38 goals
“This will be the premier league, the best this world has ever seen.” High acclaim from Cheryl Pounder, a former Team Canada player as she moderated the first draft for the three Toronto area teams on August 13, 2010 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The draft is part of the reorganization of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League as they stick handle their way towards pro status. The CWHL can back up that claim; they have added a new American team in Boston competing with the three previous Ontario teams-Toronto, Burlington and Brampton and the Montreal Stars who will be home to the highest number of both former and current US and Canadian national team players along with top US college players.
The “player run” league was launched in 2007 by Sami Jo Small and Jen Botterill. It is centrally organized and run by executive director Brenda Andress a former referee and recreation director hired in 2008. “The league decided about two years ago to reorganize itself to move towards to a professional league,” said Andress. Those plans included Sami Jo Small and Andress meeting with NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman in February 2010. Discussions continue, and a meeting with women’s hockey stakeholders and NHL representatives will happen August 23rd prior to the World Hockey Summit in Toronto.
New general managers and coaches were hired but they are not paid nor are the players. In previous years players had to pay $1000 a season to play but that is no longer the case. Boston boasts 6 US national team players including Angela Ruggiero, Caitlin Cahow and Erika Lawlor. Montreal Stars roster includes Caroline Ouellette, Kim St Pierre and Sarah Vaillancourt from Team Canada as well as Julie Chu from Team USA. The Toronto area teams are sprinkled with Team Canada veterans like Jayna Hefford, Jen Botterill, Cherie Piper and others. A sprinkling of Non North American players were drafted including rising young Swedish star Danijela Rundqvist by Burlington and the Captain of the Russian national team Ekaterina Smolentseva by Brampton along with Finnish national team player Terhi Mertanen by Toronto. There are still questions regarding visa requirements and accommodation for non North American players that must be addressed before they can play in the league.
So while the changes make sense and the draft was definitely necessary it didn’t include Boston or Montreal this year because neither the league nor the players could afford to fly to Toronto to take part. Jayna Hefford summed up some of the players concerns, “I think it is exciting; some very positive steps happening. The realistic view is there is still some uncertainty on how it is going to unfold. And there are lots of questions around the NHL involvement and whether there will be funding for players. “
5 Teams: Brampton, Burlington, Toronto, Boston and Montreal.
Opening Game: Oct. 9th, 2010 final schedule TBA
Games: two per weekend; Sat and Sunday afternoon.
Player Rosters: www.cwhl.ca