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2010-2019: The Montreal women’s hockey all-decade team

From the Stars to the Canadiennes, talent was abundant in the last 10 years.

Shanna Martin / Eyes on the Prize

As 2019 comes to an end, so does a decade that saw Montreal women’s hockey teams win three championships and make seven total Clarkson Cup final appearances. They were the most successful professional hockey team in Montreal and it’s not even close.

The talent that came through was just as talented and included some sure-fire future hall of famers, as well as some players who may never get the recognition they deserve.

Before we get started, note that only their CWHL numbers (regular season, and Clarkson Cup playoffs) while playing for Montreal from the 2010-11 season are considered. Statistics in college, with other teams, or prior to 2010-11 are not considered nor are any off-ice considerations.

That means there were a number of players who didn’t make the list who otherwise could have. Geneviève Lacasse and Hilary Knight had great CWHL and pro careers but the majority was outside of Montreal. Jill Saulnier and Mélodie Daoust had great years but only played one full season in Montreal. Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux was instrumental in starting the CWHL and was a part of the organization as GM, player, and eventually assistant coach but the best part of her career came before 2010. Same for Annie Guay, Sabrina Harbec, and Kim St-Pierre.

The team will have two goaltenders and 18 skaters. Julie Chu played multiple seasons at both forward and defence and it was an internal struggle to decide where to put her. For simplicity's sake, she will be listed as a defender making a 6D-12F roster.

Goaltenders

All Decade Team - G

NAME POS GP RECORD GAA SO PO RECORD PO SO PO GAA
NAME POS GP RECORD GAA SO PO RECORD PO SO PO GAA
Charline Labonté G 65 47-17 1.76 13 9-3 4 1.59
Emerance Maschmeyer G 43 33-10 1.63 10 2-4 2 2.16

CHARLINE LABONTÉ

Labonté was a no-brainer selection. She had it all. If the CWHL had an all-decade team, she’d be the goaltender and she played her entire career in Montreal. She had a 47-17 record, a CWHL-record 13 shutouts, and a 9-3 playoff record including four shutouts. She won the CWHL’s goaltender of the year award in each of her three final seasons.

Her final game was a Clarkson Cup final that she won, and it was put a perfect bow on her career. When she retired, she also recruited her replacement...

EMERANCE MASCHMEYER

When Maschmeyer wasn’t named to Canada’s centralization camp for the 2018 Olympics, she spoke to Charline Labonté. The two had a history going back to the 2016 World Championships where they formed Canada’s goaltending duo. Labonté informed Maschmeyer she was retiring and that getting away from Calgary where Canada was headquartered would be good for her. She was right. Maschmeyer was only in Montreal for two seasons but played 43 of the team’s 56 games. She had 33 wins, and 10 shutouts putting her within striking distance of Labonte if there was a CWHL season this year.

The two goalies have another connection: At the first women’s hockey game ever at the Bell Centre between the Canadiennes and Calgary Inferno, Labonté and Maschmeyer were the stars going back and forth as Montreal won 1-0.

Defence

All Decade Team - D

NAME POS GP G A PTS P/GP PO GP PO G PO A PO PTS PO P/G
NAME POS GP G A PTS P/GP PO GP PO G PO A PO PTS PO P/G
Erin Ambrose D 42 8 32 40 0.95 4 0 2 2 0.50
Cathy Chartrand D 144 30 93 123 0.85 18 3 13 16 0.89
Julie Chu F/D 92 18 72 90 0.98 24 3 13 16 0.67
Cassandra Poudrier D 42 4 19 23 0.55 3 0 1 1 0.33
Lauriane Rougeau D 94 9 42 51 0.54 14 2 8 10 0.71
Catherine Ward D 48 3 41 44 0.92 8 1 7 8 1.00

ERIN AMBROSE

Ambrose’s arrival in Montreal was noteworthy on its own as it was arguably the biggest hockey trade in the league’s history. The Canadiennes traded first-round picks in 2018 and 2019 and third-round picks in 2018 and 2020 for the defender once she decided to come to Montreal after being cut from the 2018 Olympic team. Ambrose went on to play the best hockey of her career. She played two seasons in Montreal, but the results were so good that she has to be on this list. Whenever you can be mentioned in the same breath of Catherine Ward, you are doing something right.

She may very well be one of the best passing defenders in the game today. She won the CWHL’s Defender of the Year award in 2018-19.

CATHY CHARTRAND

Chartrand is simply a CWHL star. She also has a case for the league’s best defender of all-time due to her production and longevity. She was the top scoring defender of all-time, and a stalwart on the power play. She was also good defensively and ate big minutes on very good Montreal teams. She also won two defender of the year awards.

JULIE CHU

Perhaps there’s no better testament to Julie Chu’s transformation to defence than that’s what she’s listed as on her Elite Prospects page. Let’s be clear: Julie Chu was a great forward. When she graduated from Harvard she was the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer (she’s currently tied for third). She started the decade as a forward following the Vancouver Olympics. In the 2014-15 season, she started playing defence as the team lacked depth. She stayed there for her final three CWHL seasons. In her first full season on defence, she was nominated for the league’s Defenceman of the Year award.

CASSANDRA POUDRIER

Poudrier’s appearance on this list is bittersweet. She was undoubtedly one of the best defenders of the decade on the team despite only playing two seasons. She was a huge part of the Clarkson Cup championship team in 2017 and complemented the others on this list perfectly. She missed the end of the 2017-18 season with a concussion and retired at the end of the season.

LAURIANE ROUGEAU

It’s hard to imagine the recent history of the Canadiennes without Rougeau. She arrived when the team needed her most and her four full seasons, plus the 2017-18 Olympic year, were great. Rougeau is not going to overwhelm you offensively but she’s capable of moving the puck and running a power play. Her defensive game is also very solid and is a real two-way defender. A Team Canada mainstay, she was just as good in the CWHL.

CATHERINE WARD

The first time I saw Catherine Ward play was when she was at Dawson College (CEGEP) at a Concordia University tournament. That Dawson team had four players on this list, and beat university teams. She went on to play for McGill University, Boston University, and Team Canada as well as the Montreal Stars.

Like Ambrose, Ward only played two seasons this decade. She won Defender of the Year and made the first All-Star team in both, winning one Clarkson Cup. She may not have had the longevity, but her greatness could not be ignored. She was one of the best defenders I ever saw, and the model for future generations. Everywhere she went, she was the best.

Forwards

All Decade Team - F

NAME POS GP G A PTS P/GP PO GP PO G PO A PO PTS PO P/G
NAME POS GP G A PTS P/GP PO GP PO G PO A PO PTS PO P/G
Meghan Agosta F 50 57 69 126 2.52 8 5 4 9 1.13
Ann-Sophie Bettez F 170 119 146 265 1.56 22 10 9 19 0.86
Emmanuelle Blais F 184 52 85 136 0.74 26 8 12 20 0.77
Katia Clement-Heydra F 102 28 49 77 0.75 12 2 1 3 0.25
Vanessa Davidson F 88 52 58 110 1.25 15 4 2 6 0.40
Kim Deschenes F 116 34 44 78 0.67 15 5 2 7 0.47
Karell Emard F 103 27 38 65 0.63 10 3 2 5 0.50
Sarah Lefort F 76 34 27 61 0.80 9 2 4 6 0.67
Noemie Marin F 149 84 79 163 1.09 26 7 8 15 0.58
Caroline Ouellette F 152 105 151 256 1.68 26 12 24 36 1.38
Marie-Philip Poulin F 71 61 72 133 1.87 7 8 6 14 2.00
Sarah Vaillancourt F 48 34 57 91 1.90 11 8 2 10 0.91

MEGHAN AGOSTA

Like Catherine Ward, Meghan Agosta didn’t have the longevity, but her two seasons were so good you can’t ignore it. She averaged over 2.5 points a game in her CWHL career and was the first player to win the Angela James Bowl for the CWHL’s top scorer in two consecutive seasons.

From the Vancouver Olympics, where she won MVP to the two years she was in the CWHL she was the best in the world and that’s why she’s on this list.

ANN-SOPHIE BETTEZ

Bettez had the most remarkable decade of any player. She started at McGill University and made her CWHL debut in the 2012-13 season. Since then, she established herself as one of the best players in the league with or without Olympians. Her success was so sustained and she was so consistent that she became the first player to re-enter the national program. She was captain for the 2017-18 season and led the franchise in scoring for the decade.

EMMANUELLE BLAIS

Blais was a member of that Dawson team with Ward, Bettez, and Karell Emard as well as others. She had a great CWHL career, finishing 10th in all-time league scoring. She was fifth in scoring in 2010-11, and as the team got deeper, she proved to be versatile and able to play in the top or bottom six when needed. If there was a fittest all-decade team she’d be at the top of the list as well. She even started training her teammates and former teammates at her gym.

KATIA CLEMENT-HEYDRA

If I were to pinpoint a goal that was the most notable or most important of the decade, it would be a goal that Clement-Heydra scored. The Canadiennes were coming off of back-to-back Clarkson Cup final losses. They had that in the back of their heads, and their confidence — while positive — was shaky against a Calgary Inferno team that was favoured.

Clement-Heydra picked the puck out of the air, put it down and beat the goalie with a backhand.

The celebration was just as good.

Shanna Martin / Eyes on the Prize

She put together a pretty good CWHL career. She was a perfect middle-six centre for the team and when you put her with great players, she became great and never looked out of place. Clement-Heydra is one of those players who make a pro women’s hockey league thrive.

VANESSA DAVIDSON

I never covered Davidson at the CWHL level, but I did cover her when she played at McGill University and there’s one word you can use to describe her: scorer. Her best season was in 2011-12 when she finished third in league scoring and made the second All-Star team. She had 24 goals and 25 assists for 49 points in only 27 games.

She was among the best players on the team in the first half of the decade.

KIM DESCHÊNES

Deschênes burst on the scene in the CWHL as a rookie in 2014-15. While Caroline Ouellette and Ann-Sophie Bettez led the top line, it was the line of Deschênes, Blais, and Noémie Marin that provided the team with a scoring punch. She used that momentum into 2015-16 where she finished third in league scoring on what was a pretty stacked forward group for the Canadiennes. Added depth pushed her down the lineup but the first player to have her number retired by the Université de Montréal had a great decade in the CWHL.

KARELL EMARD

Emard was the fourth member of that Dawson team alongside Ward, Bettez, and Blais. She became an NCAA assistant coach after graduating, and then came to the league and decided to play again. Her first year was played on defence before eventually moving back to forward and she didn’t miss a beat. She was a versatile player and could play either wing, centre, and even moved back to defence here and there when needed.

She was a great middle-six player and was a consistent player with her scoring totals staying constant despite her role changing. When Marie-Philip Poulin was out, it was Emard who took over a centre role.

SARAH LEFORT

Lefort played three seasons with the Canadiennes, and was one of the best players at coming down the wing and firing a shot into the top corner. Her best season came in 2017-18 when the Olympic year meant more playing time and she scored a career-high 18 goals. She was a great middle-six player and while she didn’t have the name recognition, her game spoke for herself.

NOÉMIE MARIN

If I gave you 10 guesses to name the CWHL’s all-time leading goal scorer, not many people would say Marin’s name, but she finished her career with one goal more than teammate Caroline Ouellette and two more than Jayna Hefford. Marin was the best CWHL player of all-time to not play for the national team. She was instrumental to the team’s success throughout its history and especially this decade.

Her last year in the CWHL, 2017-18, may have been her best. On the second line, she had 17 goals and 14 assists for 31 points in 27 games. Not many players who dominated the first half of the decade could have done what she did in the second half while working a job.

CAROLINE OUELLETTE

I don’t need to say much for this paragraph. Ouellette should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and was part of the life blood of the Canadiennes. Between Ouellette, and Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux who became coaches, they are the connection to the team’s past while being instrumental in leading its future.

Perhaps her crowning achievement may be winning her fourth Clarkson Cup in 2017, while pregnant with her daughter Liv. She became the league’s all-time leading point-getter in 2015 and became the only player in league history to reach 300 points.

MARIE-PHILIP POULIN

To think that in January 2010, Marie-Philip Poulin was not a household name. Then, in the gold medal game of the Vancouver Olympics she scored both goals in a 2-0 win and a household name was born. She may very well have been the player of the decade. Maybe even the player of any decade.

In three CWHL seasons this decade, she won three scoring titles and three Most Valuable Player awards. Her playoff numbers were even better. Her eight goals and six assists in seven Clarkson Cup playoff games is even more impressive when you consider one of those seven official games was her sitting on the bench with a knee injury and not playing a shift.

SARAH VAILLANCOURT

Injuries cost Sarah Vaillancourt from being recognized as one of the best of all-time. When she did play, her numbers speak for themselves. She scored at a pace similar to Poulin when she was in the lineup. She won a Clarkson Cup in 2011, and was second in league scoring in 2013-14 to her teammate and linemate Bettez. It would be her final CWHL season. She was also named the league’s top rookie in 2010-11.

All Decade Team lineup

Goaltenders
Goaltenders
Charline Labonté
Emerance Maschmeyer

Defenders

Defence Defence
Defence Defence
Lauriane Rougeau Cathy Chartrand
Catherine Ward Julie Chu
Cassandra Poudrier Erin Ambrose

Forwards

Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Left Wing Centre Right Wing
Caroline Ouellette Marie-Philip Poulin Ann-Sophie Bettez
Meghan Agosta Noémie Marin Sarah Vaillancourt
Sarah Lefort Vanessa Davidson Emmanuelle Blais
Karell Emard Katia Clement-Heydra Kim Deschênes