Sports

Brianne Jenner: For the love of Hockey

Team Canada Star Brianne Jenner “Can’t Wait to Represent Ottawa” in New Professional Women’s Hockey League

Brianne Jenner is one of the most talented, accomplished players in women’s hockey. Jenner has played for Team Canada for well over a decade, winning five gold medals – two at the Olympics and three at the World Championships.

Jenner was absolutely incredible at last year’s Olympics in Beijing, scoring 9 goals (an Olympic record) and 14 points in 7 games, not only helping Canada win gold, but winning the tournament MVP award.

Now she’s about to represent Canada’s capital in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL), a league she helped to build as a board member with the players’ association. Ottawa will begin play in January, along with Toronto, Montreal, New York, Minnesota and Boston.

And Jenner can’t wait.

“I think what excites me most is to have a chance to help build the foundation of a brand new franchise,” Jenner told Faces. “Being a part of this league is a dream come true and I feel extremely lucky that myself and my teammates will not only play in the inaugural season but have a chance to impact the identity and character of the Ottawa organization.”

Faces: Ottawa signed you as one of the very first players in the league. What did that mean to you?

Brianne Jenner: It was an enormous honour to be able to sign with Ottawa in the PWHL. I know this has been something myself and my peers have been focused on achieving since the folding of the CWHL in 2019 and a lot of work went in behind the scenes to get to this point but that’s only a small piece of the journey that got us here. It’s really been something that our sport has been building towards for generations. There were a lot of amazing women that came before us that got us to this point. We stand on their shoulders and I hope when puck drops in January those pioneers feel a part of the celebration.

How would you describe the general state of women’s hockey right now?

Extremely exciting. I think we are about to see our sport explode. I think the growth in the professional game will have a positive trickle down effect. It will bring more fans into our game, create more opportunities for players, coaches, referees, everyone involved in the sport and I

I think it will inspire the next generation of players to dream big.

How does the signing process work? Is it just like NHL free agency? Were other teams talking to you?

The free agency period was brand new for all of us and certainly an exciting, albeit stressful few days. I just kept pinching myself and thinking, is this really happening? It wasn’t like anything any of us would have experienced in our careers thus far. It was pretty cool for women’s hockey players to be having those conversations with GMs, facing those

decisions and feel the full scope of being a professional athlete. I owe a lot to my agency (CAA) and my team there (Dominique Didia, Jen Kardosh and Mike Chiasson) for helping me through that process and to my family for their unwavering support. I couldn’t be happier to have landed in Ottawa and can’t wait to represent the city.

What was it like watching the first professional women’s entry draft unfold? Not only did you get to see your Ottawa team take shape, but it felt like a historic day for the sport.

I was on the edge of my seat. It was such a historic day and I think women’s hockey fans enjoyed a highly entertaining event. To see all the teams start to take shape was so exciting.

As you look at the roster, what kind of team do you think Ottawa will have?

I think we have some great depth in all positions. There’s a lot of great players and talent on the training camp roster and I am excited to see how we can elevate each other’s games when we come together in November. I think we will find out our team identity when we hit the ice together but I think it’s safe to say we’d love to be a team that is difficult to play against.

What kind of coach is Carla MacLeod?

Carla brings so much experience, knowledge and passion to our hockey club. I know players love to play for her, and work hard for her. I’ve had the chance to play against Carla’s teams over the last few years and you certainly notice how selfless, hard working and difficult they are to play against.

You’re nine years apart, did you ever play with Carla at any point?

Yes, I was lucky to overlap with Carla one year with the National Women’s Team (my first year and her last year). I was a bit of a deer in the headlights with so many legends in the room that I watched growing up. Carla was a great veteran and always knew how to keep things light and make others around her feel at ease. It was pretty amazing to have that year as an 18 year old with that core group of veterans (McLeod, Sostorics, Pounder, Kellar, Goyette etc.) Many of them retired after Vancouver 2010, so I feel pretty lucky to have snuck in to play with them for a bit of that season.

You have some teammates as young as 22 or 23. So you’re probably going to be seen as a leader whether you want to or not. Is that a role you embrace, helping young players?

It’s definitely something I’ve tried to embrace. I hope to bring a positive impact to the locker room and

help instill confidence in my teammates, especially the younger ones. I’m really looking forward to getting to know my new teammates and building a strong foundation together.

Any idea when we’ll see Ottawa’s colours, uniform and a name for the team?

No, but I hope we will get some news soon! I think I am just as eager as our fans to know!

What’s happening now in preparation for the season? When does training camp start?

Right now I am in the gym and on the ice regularly, preparing for what will be a challenging schedule come January. I think we will see an extremely high level of competition every single night in this league and we can expect a physical battle every game. So I am working hard to ensure I am ready for November training camp and ready for the demands of the season ahead.

What would be your message to Ottawa hockey fans about the PWHL and what they should expect?

I think it’s pretty historic and awesome to have one of the original six franchises of women’shockey in Ottawa. So much women’s hockey history comes from our nation’s capital and I thinkit’s so fitting for another chapter to begin here. I think we as players recognize the opportunitywe have and will be working our hardest to earn the respect of our Ottawa fans and make them proud. It’s not going to be easy in this league, it will be best on best every night and high skilled and paced games, especially with only 6 teams in the league. But we’re looking forward to that challenge and to hopefully bring a championship back to the city.

If there’s one player who knows championships – with her five gold medals and gigantic trophy case – it’s Brianne Jenner.

 

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