The first head coach of the Montreal franchise of the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (LPHF) represented the “ideal” candidate. A woman with “extraordinary potential”, says general director Danièle Sauvageau. However, there is one skill that is not on his CV: that of expressing himself in French.

Sauvageau chose Kori Cheverie to lead his team. A 36-year-old coach whose rise in the world of hockey has been meteoric.

As an assistant, she accompanied the Canadian team to the three most recent World Championships as well as to the Beijing Olympic Games in 2022, where the national team won the gold medal. The Pittsburgh Penguins invited her to their development camp earlier this summer, and she will be heading to their main training camp in the coming weeks.

Kori Cheverie and Danièle Sauvageau were able to get to know each other better, last season, behind the bench of the Harvey’s team, during Professional Players’ Association matches – a team which notably included Marie-Philip Poulin and Ann-Renée Desbiens , today members of the Montreal formation of the LPHF.

“I was able to discover the way she thinks, how she looks at hockey, all her ability to find solutions,” said the CEO during a virtual press briefing on Friday afternoon. According to her, another team would have hired Cheverie if Montreal had not grabbed it. We understand that she was the first choice of her new boss.

This Nova Scotia native thus “checks” a lot of the proverbial boxes. But not that of French.

“I knew people would talk to me about it,” Cheverie admitted on Friday. I’m working on that…”

As a joke, she uttered from memory one of the few phrases she remembers—“Can I sharpen my pencil? »—, agreeing that it would probably no longer be of use to him. So she committed to learning French.

Satisfied with this commitment, Danièle Sauvageau argued that “French is something that can be learned” and that “the representation of what Montreal is is still quite broad.” Players from the club, other staff members and the CEO itself will act as French-speaking spokespeople for the franchise, she added.

Relaunched on the fact that broken promises to learn French mark the history of Montreal sport, particularly and especially on the side of a certain men’s hockey franchise in the metropolis, Sauvageau assured that she had demanded that the new came to sign up for classes. “We fully intend to supervise it,” she added.

Kori Cheverie, for her part, praised the relationship she developed with Danièle Sauvageau, founder of Center 21.02, a high-performance venue for women’s hockey. “People from other provinces and elsewhere in the world see what is happening in Montreal,” said the coach. I want to be part of it. Danièle has a vision that I share, which makes complete sense. It was easy to say yes to him. »

She intends to continue her commitments with the Pittsburgh Penguins and with Hockey Canada. Two of her colleagues from the national team were also named to head LPHF teams at the same time as her—Troy Ryan in Toronto and Courtney Birchard-Kessel in Boston.

Like the players, Cheverie was enthusiastic that women could finally aspire to key positions within professional organizations, and were no longer condemned to see their progress stop at the university level.

Over the coming weeks, the Montreal team will work to complete the hiring of personnel, both within hockey operations and in terms of player support – equipment, medical services, etc. And in the very short term, the Sauvageau-Cheverie duo will travel to Toronto on Monday for the LPHF draft, a 15-round exercise during which the clubs will truly take shape.

Cheverie spoke about the importance of bringing together “the best possible team,” but also “the best possible people.” Each of the 268 eligible players will therefore be evaluated “diligently.”

At the Canadian team selection camp, underway in Ontario, there is real excitement surrounding the creation of the circuit, she assured.

“For the first time in four years, there is a real league waiting for the players after camp. The talent level is not going to disappoint anyone. The product on the ice will be phenomenal. »