When I was young, I believed that hockey skates were for boys and that girls were supposed to wear figure skates. Once my parents finally convinced me to lace up a pair of hockey skates, I deked my way past those nonsensical gender roles that had been planted in my mind. Whenever I watched TV or heard people talk about “the game,” it was always the men’s games. The boys at school told me that “girls’ hockey is a joke.” When I stepped on the ice, all of those voices faded and became muffled together into cheers. Being crowded around the TV for the women’s Olympic game has become as much of a ritual as it is for the men’s.
There were two major contributions to my change in mindset: seeing Hayley Wickenheiser be a huge role model and myself as a little girl coming off the ice dripping in sweat with a smile on my face. I realized that not only could females play hockey too but they should be appreciated for it. I used to question why it was called the National Hockey League, but the women’s league is called the Women’s Hockey League. Why did the females still have to be specified but the males didn’t? I am already a huge Montreal Canadiens fan and have been for years but I gained even more respect for the team when they joined with the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) to create Les Canadiennes de Montreal- a women’s team.
In a Montreal Canadiens’ press release (September 24 2015), Habs’ executive vice president and chief operating officer, Kevin Gilmore said, “In Quebec, hockey is ingrained in the fabric of our society, and it’s part of our culture. Our goal with this partnership is to not only help promote the team and the CWHL, but also to inspire young female players across the province.” The gesture by the Canadiens will change the lives of many little girls with big dreams.
Canadiennes’ player, Caroline Ouellette was also excited about the partnership, “When you’re a young girl, and you love hockey, you don’t realize that it’s not entirely possible to make it to the NHL. It’s exciting to be part of such a prestigious and successful organization. People are so proud of the Montreal Canadiens. Here in Québec, the following is incredible and I think for us to get that exposure as part of Le Club de Hockey Canadien is truly an honour and a privilege for this club.” This may not be breaking news, but with how long equality in sports is taking, I figured shedding light onto this a few months after it took place wouldn’t be an issue. If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out Les Canadiennes de Montreal or even one of your local girls’ hockey games.