With the upcoming season in question and no further plans from the RSEQ, the Concordia Stingers have been keeping busy and continued to do so internally on Tuesday. Following a strong regular season, they announced the hiring of coach Caroline Ouellette.
Ouellette takes the reigns on the bench while her wife, Julie Chu, takes time off on maternity leave. As Athletics Director D’Arcy Ryan mentions, the hiring is effective immediately, and to the women’s hockey program, a familiar face.
Ouellette, for a handful of years, has served with the program as assistant coach and re-joins the conference on an interim basis while able to offer pro tips and experience. Speaking of the change to the coaching staff, Ryan said in a statement on behalf of the Stingers, “Our program is one of the top in the country and I know Caroline will keep its high standards and help move the team forward. She has been involved with the Stingers as an assistant coach for many years and has been instrumental in helping develop the foundation and philosophies that have led to its success in recent years.”
Most recently, Ouellette worked closely with the Montreal region of the PWHPA. That of course came on the heels of the sudden collapse of the CWHL. Speaking of which, Ouellette, in the league’s last two seasons, was associate bench boss with Les Canadiennes. It’s the same team where the Montreal native spent three seasons playing once the franchise rebranded. between the Stars and Les Canadiennes, the Canadian Olympian captured four Clarkson Cups.
Aside from the CWHL, Ouellette also played with the National Team where the former forward competed for 20 years. She did so, winning 10 gold medals between the Winter Olympics and IIHF World Championships. Speaking even further to her playing side, Ouellette first joined Hockey Canada at the Women’s World Championship back in 1998.
Since she made her international debut, Ouellette scored a total of nine goals and 17 assists when battling at the Olympics. Doing so in 20 games played, the left-handed shooter amassed 26 points. In 2018, she hung up the skates, and given her success, finds herself in the record books. With 242 points, Ouellette is recognized by Hockey Canada as the third highest scorer in national team history.
Given her production, she scored 87 goals and 155 assists in 220 games played. While she won’t pass this on directly, Ouellette will hope, working with Concordia, to pass on her skillset to the next generation. Returning to the program she played with, the interim coach said of the great opportunity, “I love working with this team and I’ve been doing it many years now. I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s a great family and there’s a great staff that really cares. It is a pleasure for me to devote myself full-time in a coaching role.”
After she retired as a player, Ouellette stuck with Hockey Canada, providing her services to several national team programs. Not only that, but having many friends still playing, Ouellette worked at the Women’s World Championships in 2017 and again in 2019. Being on staff those two years, she led the players competing to securing silver medals.
Prior to that, Ouellette coached in the states where she worked at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She did so back in 2008 where she led the program to the NCAA championship. Since then, she has continued to coach youth hockey, working through spring and summer with Marie-Philip Poulin. As well, she also operates hockey schools through one of her own, “Camps de Hockey Caroline Ouellette.”
Adding to her family in May, her hiring becomes the latest challenge which Ouellette has been tasked with despite looming uncertainty. Entering Concordia as a successor, it should be smooth sailing for the veteran Olympian. Being the newest leader at Concordia, Ouellette was acknowledged by the school back in 2019 with an honorary doctorate.
The accolade is a tribute to her success which she will look to prolong if and when cleared for puck drop. Knowing what this new duty holds, Ouellette concluded in saying with positivity on Tuesday, “What matters the most is controlling what we can. When we can resume play, we will be ready and will come out flying.”
The notion of returning to play is not yet forgone by the body of U SPORTS, however, the conference has not made a decision as to how to proceed for the upcoming season. Because of that, student athletes are still training as they hold out hope to make a comeback and safely. Until they are given that clearance, weekly conferences are being hosted on Zoom to provide any updates and touch base on conditioning.