Sunday, 16 February 2014

Several women's hockey legends extending careers with superlative broadcast performances at Sochi

For a generation of Canadian hockey fans, the idea of fan favorites such as the legendary Kim St. Pierre and the charismatic Tessa Bonhomme not donning the Canadian jersey on the world’s biggest hockey stage is nothing short of shocking. After providing such strong and emotional performances on home ice in Vancouver four years ago, no one could have foreseen how time would provide change four years later.

Having both inspired many young girls to lace on the skates and play the game, their legacies in the game are assured. Despite their absence from the ice, neither is too far from the game. Both have taken on new roles as broadcasters, and providing a superlative performance.

Working with Radio-Canada, Kim St. Pierre brings her expertise to the French-Canadian airwaves. As the analyst for Team Canada’s broadcasts, she works with color commentator Martin Leclerc, who brings 20 years of experience in covering the game. One of the winningest goalies in the history of IIHF play, this is St. Pierre's first experience as a broadcaster at the Winter Games.

While St. Pierre is a broadcast rookie, fans can definitely tell that she is passionate and her knowledge of the game is highly evident. Having developed a very good on-air chemistry with Leclerc, there are no signs of rookie nerves whatsoever. Just as steady as she was between the pipes for Canada, there is no question that she has found a new niche and fans can only hope that there will be many more Winter Games to come for St. Pierre. 

On Radio-Canada’s English counterpart, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Jennifer Botterill, a three-time gold medalist for Canada is serving as a reporter for women’s games. Meanwhile, Cassie Campbell, the first woman to captain Canada to back-to-back gold medals in hockey is not only serving as an analyst on women’s hockey matches, but also for men’s hockey. By providing analysis on men’s contests, Campbell is continuing to break barriers

Already an on-air favorite with Leafs TV, Bonhomme is carrying in the legacy of many former Team Canada players such as Margot Page by providing her expertise for The Sports Network (TSN). Enhancing the experience for Bonhomme (who is a competitor with the CWHL’s Toronto Furies) is the presence of former teammate at the 2007 IIHF Women’s Worlds, Cheryl Pounder.

One of the finest English-language female hockey broadcasters in the business, Pounder is articulate, well-spoken and brings with her two decades of knowledge on the game. Having contributed to the Canadian contingent that brought back gold in Salt Lake (2002) and Torino (2006), Pounder is also a former Ontario University Athletics All-Star.

Fans are familiar with Pounder’s strong performance as a color commentator for TSN’s Clarkson Cup coverage. An in-demand public speaker and a popular master of ceremonies for numerous women’s hockey events (including the Esso Cup), Pounder and Bonhomme have provided exceptional in-studio analysis, along the likes of popular male personalities such as Bob McKenzie and Nick Kypreos.

From analyzing the impact of Hayley Wickenheiser to discussing the performances of Rebecca Johnston and Marie-Philip Poulin, this dynamic duo have great rapport while leading the change towards including more women in the ranks of hockey broadcasting. With occasional SportsCentre host Natasha Staniszewski (a former competitive basketball and volleyball player) anchoring the in-studio analysis for the women’s hockey coverage, the result is sports coverage worth watching.

While Sochi has certainly represented a period of transition for the Canadian program and many of its fans, it is rewarding to see many of its legends still part of the sport. Although players such as Bonhomme, Pounder and St. Pierre will never be forgotten for their efforts in establishing Canada’s dynasty in the Winter Games, they continue to inspire women by proving that they can excel in other opportunities.

Image of Martin Leclerc and Kim St. Pierre in the Radio-Canada studio obtained from: http://olympiques.radio-canada.ca/videos/video/seoname=capsule-zone-hockey.html 

Image of Cassie Campbell and Jennifer Botterill obtained from http://www.cbc.ca/mediacentre/

Image of Cheryl Pounder and Tessa Bonhomme sharing a humrous moment obtained from: https://twitter.com/tvnatasha

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