Canadiens hire Olympic hero Marie-Philip Poulin as player development consultant.

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BROSSARD, Que. — The Montreal Canadiens continued to rework their player development department by securing the services of a talent from their own backyard -- and the best player in women’s hockey.

Marie-Philip Poulin signed on as a player development consultant with the Canadiens on Tuesday. The 31-yard-old’s new job is on a part-time basis, as she still has a fiery passion for her playing career with another Olympic cycle approaching.

"It's clear that my priority is still to be playing hockey, that's still something I'm very passionate about," Poulin said at a press conference at the Canadiens' practice facility. "But to be able to learn about development, watch video, to see hockey differently is something I'm very excited about and to be able to learn. But for the next three to four years, I want to continue playing hockey."

Poulin will work in conjunction with director of player development Rob Ramage and director of hockey development Adam Nicholas. Her responsibilities will include joining Canadiens players on the ice and in video sessions to help develop individual skills.

Poulin is looking forward to a spirit of collaboration in her new role. For her, men’s hockey can learn from women’s hockey and vice-versa.

"Obviously it's not as physical on the women's side, I think the way we play the game has a little bit more finesse in the way we move the puck," Poulin said. "Moving that puck fast, the skating part, are things that we can both learn."

Following the hire of Jeff Gorton as executive vice president of hockey operations, team owner Geoff Molson had a plan to add to and diversify to the development and analytics side. Poulin was top of Molson’s list, even though she is an active player.

"She's a winner, she knows how to win and our players are young. They need to learn that as well and I think that's probably the biggest priority," Molson said. "But at the same time, we tick many boxes with Marie-Philip.

"Not only do we get somebody who is very competent in hockey, development, player development, also is passionate about analytics and also is a woman and I think having all three in our organization is a big win for us."

Poulin explained that her post-playing goal was to get into coaching, and the consultant opportunity came faster than she had initially expected. Balancing both roles will be challenging, but an opportunity with a club like the Canadiens was hard to pass up.

"I know how much I want to train but I know also given the organization, it was the Montreal Canadiens, and I think just knowing when it's time to do the work on my personal side and also when it's time to do that commitment here," Poulin said. "I'm very excited to start, being a consultant for those players and being able to do more work than video wise or getting to go watch them. That's something I'm very excited to do."

WOMEN’S LEAGUE STILL ON HOLD

Poulin remains one of the shining stars of the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, which is still working on establishing a professional league.

The Canadian Olympic team captain said that it’s still a lengthy process but is confident in the people working behind the scenes but a league will not start by this fall. Reports suggested that a new league could start in Jan. 2023 and would run until April.

"We don't have all the answers right now but we know there's a lot of people that work behind closed doors," Poulin said. "There's a lot of people involved that we trust and we believe that's going to happen. Not at the beginning of September, I can guarantee that sadly, but I think next year it's going to be there and we hope that it will be viable and that we’ll play together."

Molson voiced his support and said a professional women’s league would be viable. However, he didn't confirm the Canadiens would invest in a Montreal-based team. Les Canadiennes of the now-defunct Canadian Women’s Hockey League, which Poulin played for, had a partnership with the Canadiens.

"It's too soon to answer whether it’s an investment or not," Molson said. "Les Canadiennes was a little bit of investment and a lot of man-power. This time it could be investment, sponsorship, operating. We could also use our resources in this province to help them. We'll see."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2022.

Tristan D'Amours, The Canadian Press

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