Ellie, daughter of Canadiens forward Paul Byron, had the opportunity to meet her idol, Marie-Philip Poulin, and take some photos during the Canadiens’ season opener at the Bell Centre on October 12.
Ellie was in awe following this surprise meeting with the best women’s hockey player in the world.
We spoke to Paul and his wife Sarah to learn more about this special moment.
How did it go?
Sarah: Ellie was so… She told us that she wanted to meet her and was really happy. Marie-Philip was really kind. She let Ellie try on her medal, took some photos and was very nice.
Was Ellie shy?
Sarah: Yes, she was shy because she spoke in French. She’s pretty comfortable speaking it but was still shy.
How happy was she when the Canadiens hired Marie-Philip Poulin last June?
Paul: Oh, she was definitely excited. She knows who she is. I think Ellie’s first thought was that Marie-Philip will be at the [Bell Sports Complex] all the time and she’ll have every chance to meet her, but I told her that she’s in a development role, so she’s not a coach per se and at the rink every day. But if ever there’s a day where she’s at the rink, I’d like to bring my daughter in and who knows, maybe they can go on the ice together and work on some skills.
Among hockey players, Ellie can look up to her dad, but how important is it for her to have a women’s hockey player as a role model?
Sarah: Yes, [it’s so important]. Ellie says she wants to be like Marie-Philip. She wants to play for Team Canada, aspires to be captain and wants to follow in her footsteps. She also did an oral presentation on five important moments in her life and said that she met Marie-Philip, that she’s her idol, and she tried on her medal and that it was heavy.
Paul: We’ve watched some games together; we’ve talked about it together. It’s incredibly cool for her to meet another women’s hockey player. It really gives her someone she can idolize. I wasn’t there when they met her, so after the game, she ran over to me, and she couldn’t wait to tell me how excited she was. That joy, the smile, the thrill on her face was just incredible to see. My son gets that; he gets to meet Cole [Caufield], Nick [Suzuki], Shea [Weber] and Carey [Price]. So, for my daughter, it was a different kind of enlightenment for her. It was really an incredible experience for her, and I couldn’t be any happier.
Did she show interest in hockey in the past or is it new?
Sarah: We didn’t see it coming. She used to do figure skating and I would have never thought that she wanted to play hockey, but her brother played. I was taking skating classes, and the wives and girlfriends created a hockey team, so I think she felt left out and wanted to play. She started playing last year and loves it.
Paul: She started skating young. We put her in figure skating, and we never thought to put her in hockey. She didn’t really show the same enthusiasm as her brother at a young age. One day, she just said, “I want to stop wearing figure skates, I want to wear hockey skates.” That made me really happy. She said that she wanted to play hockey, so we started putting her in camps and clinics. She loves it. She loves playing hockey. She loves playing with the boys. We love taking her and this year, I was able to help out as a coach for her atom hockey team and it makes me pretty happy.
Does Ellie play hockey with Paul for fun or to get some tips?
Sarah: Yes, we have a little station in the garage. The whole family takes shots and Ellie goes there often with her dad and the dog to pass the puck.
Paul: I make a rink in the backyard every year, so we play there.