The players of the Professional Women’s Hockey League (LPHF) are not the only ones making history this winter. In fact, Claudine Douville, Andrée-Anne Barbeau, Isabelle Leclaire, Stéphanie Poirier, Karell Émard, Émilie Duquette and field journalist Catherine Savoie mark the annals of the Sports Network (RDS) by forming the first all-female team with the description of a sport. league.
For years, RDS has been bringing together journalists to describe the Women’s Hockey World Championship. On March 7, 2008, during Big Hockey Week, the network also celebrated International Women’s Rights Day by reuniting Claudine Douville, Danièle Sauvageau, Hélène Pelletier and France St-Louis during a game between New Jersey and Tampa Bay.
However, never before had the women covered an entire season. “It’s a big blow,” said Claudine Douville. At RDS there was a desire to include only women. Because ? I would say maybe three centuries too late to catch up. »
Andrée-Anne Barbeau specifies that skills took precedence, highlighting that Claudine is an authority who has covered women’s hockey for 20 years, that Isabelle Leclaire is the coach of the Carabins and that her assistant Stéphanie Poirier plays at the international level.
He adds that Karell Émard is a former player who participated in drafting the new league’s collective agreement, that Émilie Duquette is an excellent television presenter and that she herself has been covering hockey for 17 years.
It’s great to have six women (on the broadcast team), but in terms of background, I think it would be very dishonest to say that someone is on this team just because they are a woman.
the world changes
He’s come a long way since Barbeau was prevented from playing his favorite sport during his early years. “I wanted to play hockey, but when my mother asked me, they told her that girls played ringette,” she remembers.
The host, however, understood that she could make a place for herself in the world of hockey by watching the Canadian women excel at the Salt Lake City Olympics. “I made my media career in men’s hockey, but when I saw the beginnings of the LPHF, I told my bosses that I wanted to be part of this adventure. »
After the failures of several women’s leagues, Claudine Douville was surprised by the rapid creation of the LPHF. “She was a little shocked. The moment you know it’s coming, you believe in it and start preparing, but when it started, the excitement took over me. I understood that it was a historic moment. »
During Montreal’s first game on January 2, his colleague also became emotional. “It’s been a long time since he felt this fever before a hockey game,” says Andrée-Anne Barbeau. I felt like I was experiencing something important. »
But how do you prepare to cover a league that did not exist a few months ago? The answer: hours and hours of preparation. “I take the players one after the other to find as much information as possible about them, because it is still a challenge to find data on women’s hockey, which is less documented than the NHL, the Major Junior League or the American League,” he explains. Barbecue.
With several decades of experience, Douville is not intimidated by six teams that must be tamed, she has to talk about 32 teams in each soccer World Cup. For her, the challenge is to find an identity in each formation. “We will discover their strengths, identify problems between the teams and follow the rankings for an entire season. It’s very exciting ! »
Time will necessarily do its work. “It’s just the beginning and the level is already good,” says Barbeau. Little by little the girls will learn to play together, the teams will position themselves and it will be even better. »
When asked if they have a better understanding of some issues specific to female players, because they are women themselves, Claudine Douville responds that their work does not differ between female and male athletes.
Andrée-Anne Barbeau evokes sensitivity in some aspects, such as remembering that players would have the right to maternity leave. “I was happy about that, but I thought, ‘Oh my God, in 2023, to be happy about that, I don’t know if it’s sad or happy.’ »Perhaps my male colleagues would say the same, but we have a sensitivity as women, because conciliation comes to us. »
His colleague catches the ball. “I had three children and continued working all the time. So maybe I understand them more. »Then she thinks that they are also used to evolving in an essentially masculine environment. “We can understand the struggle of girls to make a place for themselves in a man’s world and be proud of their achievements. »