Canadian women’s hockey team captain Marie-Philip Poulin is the only hockey player in the world, male or female, to score goals in four straight Olympic hockey finals.
The 31-year-old from Beauceville, Que., reinforced her golden-goaler reputation by scoring twice, including the eventual winner, in February’s final in Beijing where Canada edged the United States 3-2.
Poulin leads defending champion Canada into the women’s world championship starting Thursday in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark. Canada opens against Finland in Herning.
Poulin has produced seven goals in her four Olympic finals, including the late equalizer and OT winner in Canada’s victory in 2014, and both goals in 2010 in a 2-0 win over the Americans.
She also scored in regulation time in Canada’s shootout loss to the U.S. in 2018.
Her heroics aren’t limited to Olympic Games. Her overtime winner against the U.S. in last year’s world championship final in Calgary gave Canada its first title in almost a decade.
Poulin tops all active Canadian players in scoring with 88 goals and 96 assists in 153 career games.
She ranks fifth all-time behind Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, Caroline Ouellette and Danielle Goyette.
Wickenheiser, Hefford, and Goyette are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When Pope Francis spoke about teamwork to an audience in Iqaluit, Nunavut during last month’s papal visit to Canada, he referred to Poulin and her teammate Sarah Nurse by name.
“I heard that,” Poulin said. “I got a nice little message from my grandma. I think she’s pretty happy about it.”
The Canadian Press had a few questions for Poulin ahead of the world championship in Denmark. The interview has been edited and condensed for space.
CP: It’s only been six months since the Olympics. This is the third major championship in the space of a year. You’ve had some knee injuries in your career and some international hockey miles on you. What made you want to play in this world championship and not take a break?
MPP: “The team we have, it’s been so special the last couple years, we’ve got this culture going with Hockey Canada right through the women’s program that’s going very well. It’s hard for me to put a pause to it. We’ve been pretty successful the last year with the worlds and the Olympics, but we’re not taking it for granted. Wearing that Maple Leaf, there’s so much pride in it. It’s an honour every time, so it’s fun. It was a short summer. I’m not going to lie.”
CP: What would it mean to you to captain Canada to a third major title in the span of a year?
MPP: “I haven’t thought that far, but the group we have is really special. There’s a lot of talent coming up as well and obviously it would be an honour. Having the chance to win these two big tournaments in the last year was a big confidence-booster. For us, now it’s in the past and now we’re looking at what’s ahead of us.”
CP: What does your job with the Montreal Canadiens entail and how do you blend that with your playing career?
MPP: “They were aware when I sat down with them that my priority was playing still. It’s a part-time job with development of players. With the rookie camp in July, I was able to go for there for three days, just getting involved and seeing how it happens there. It was really interesting for me as a player. I think you see the game a little differently when you’re on the coach side. I tried to see what they learned and also for me as a player also apply it to my game. I’m excited to get involved a little bit more.”
CP: It’s been widely reported that a league involving Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) is in the works backed by Billie Jean King Enterprises and the Mark Walter Group. How close do you feel you are to getting the professional women’s league you want?
MPP: “It’s getting there. I think we have an investor with us. It’s a slower process than we anticipated. I think we all know we want a league tomorrow. We have the right people behind us. We trust them. We’ve had that association for many years now and we’re going to keep hoping and trusting those working behind those closed doors, that they have the right intention for us and it’s going to happen soon.”
CP: How long do you want to keep playing for the national team?
MPP: “As long as I can keep up with the youngsters. They’re pretty talented. I still love it. When I come to the rink not smiling and not enjoying it, I know it’s going to be over, but I’m still enjoying it.”