Monday, 29 March 2021

Good Dude Of The Year

There is no official award for "Good Dude of the Year" that the NHL hands out, but I'm here to hand one out to Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Julien BriseBois today. It's an award that may not mean much to BriseBois after being named as a finalist for the GM of the Year award last season, but the reason for him receiving this award I made up is because he's providing incredible opportunities to his alma mater with his gift to the school's hockey program today. Yes, you're reading that right: a Stanley Cup-winning general manager is making a massive difference to a Canadian university women's hockey program with his generosity!

If you missed the news, BriseBois, who grew up in Greenfield Park on the South Shore in Montreal, dropped some major dough on the Université de Montréal Carabins' women's hockey team today as he donated $75,000 to the program. BriseBois graduated from the Université de Montréal with a law degree before joining the Montreal Canadiens, and he made the donation to the women's team since the Université de Montréal doesn't have a men's hockey program. The purpose of the funds is to support the professional development of coaches and coaching for student athletes.

"It's only natural to want to give back to my alma mater," BriseBois said in a statement. "As graduates, we have a responsibility to pay it forward to the university that provided us with the education we needed to realize our ambitions. And we are fortunate as UdeM is one of the leading academic institutions in the world."

Having seen les Carabins play at the U SPORTS National Championship in consecutive years, there is no doubt that this donation by BriseBois will only strengthen an already-strong program in Quebec. As the only francophone women's university hockey team in Quebec and one of only two in Canada (Université de Moncton is the other), developing francophone coaches, particularly female coaches, will go a long way in this country when it comes to strong coaching candidates who speak both of Canada's official languages.

"He understands that money isn't an end to itself," Athletic Director Manon Simard told Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette, "but the means to accomplish great things. We're grateful for the confidence he has in us and for his outstanding generosity. Knowing they now have a defending Stanley Cup champion backing them is a big plus for our program."

The history of les Carabins isn't long, but it is storied. Founded in 2009 by former Team Canada head coach Danièle Sauvageau, les Carabins have played in ten of eleven RSEQ finals since 2009, and they have two U SPORTS National Championships to boast as they won in 2013 and 2016 while medalling in four other years in the nine times they have played in the Canadian university women's hockey championship. Sauvageau serves as the executive director of the women's hockey program while Isabelle Leclaire has been the head coach since the team's founding after graduating from the Université de Montréal with a degree in kinesiology.

Having alumni value programs is so vitally important, and it's an incredible gesture by Julien BriseBois to donate this amount of money to les Carabins to help develop coaches and opportunities for coaches in Quebec. With BriseBois having also been a student at Concordia University, he could have gifted money to the anglophone school's hockey programs, but he opted to support the Université de Montréal and their women's hockey program where he earned his law degree and his path into the NHL.

"We're constantly on the lookout for better ways to coach our student athletes on their road to success and to encourage them in exceeding their personal best," Simard said. "One way to do this is to partner with great people — those who inspire others to excel."

Julien BriseBois will not inspire others to excel, he's also provided a little financial support for those who want get into coaching and excel in that field. That's the kind of leadership you want to see from alumni, and the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager has seen a lot of success thanks to the opportunities he had at the Université de Montréal.

His gift to the university shows why he's a winner of the 2020-21 Good Dude Award.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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