Université de Montréal Carabins varsity sports program is proud to announce that it has secured financial backing from Julien BriseBois, vice-president and general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup champions.
A graduate of UdeM's law faculty, BriseBois recently joined the Carabins Club des Gouverneurs with a generous personal donation of $75,000.
He joins other well-known personalities in the club, many from the business community, who have a keen interest in supporting the development of varsity sports at UdeM.
BriseBois' donation specifically targets the Carabins women’s hockey team. The grant will support the professional development of coaches and coaching for student-athletes.
BriseBois began his career in the National Hockey League (NHL) in 2001 and has been with the Lightning since July 2010. He previously held a number of posts with the Montreal Canadiens over nine seasons. He won the Calder Cup twice for his work as manager of the American Hockey League (AHL) affiliates of the Canadiens (in 2007) and Lightning (in 2012).
'A perfect fit'
“Backing the Carabins makes perfect sense for me," said BriseBois, 44, who is originally from the South Shore of Montreal community of Greenfield Park and is the second youngest GM in the NHL.
"It’s only natural to want to give back to my alma mater," he said. "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.”
Added Manon Simard, UdeM Athletics Director: “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. One way to do this is to partner with great people, those who inspire others to excel."
She continued: "When I first met Julien in the fall of 2019, I knew immediately that he was that kind of person. He understands that money is not an end in itself but the means to accomplish great things. We’re grateful for the confidence he has in us and for his outstanding generosity. Knowing that they now have a defending Stanley Cup champion backing them, is a big plus for our program.”
'Phenomenal right from the get-go'
Over the past few days, BriseBois took time out to meet virtually with the student-athletes of the hockey team wearing blue-white-and-black jerseys.
“I’m extremely proud to be associated with UdeM and its other governors, and in particular with a renowned program like the Carabins," he said. "The growth and success of its women’s hockey team has been phenomenal right from the get-go. Canadian university hockey epitomizes excellence within the pyramide of women’s hockey and the Carabins program is a point of reference in the country."
Since its inception just over a decade ago, Les Bleus carved a path as the Canadian women’s hockey team to emulate, not only for its winning play but also for the high level of coaching its players enjoy. Founded in 2009 by Canadian women’s hockey pioneer Danièle Sauvageau, the team has provided its players with the unique opportunity to combine their university studies with competition in top-level sports. For several years now, Carabins student-athletes have set their sights on making their national team and going professional.
“One way to keep our hockey players in Quebec is by ensuring they have access to the best equipment and the best coaching possible," said Sauvageau, the women's team's general manager. "Having Julien BriseBois as one of our backers proves once again that sports in general, and women’s hockey in particular, can reach a level of excellence here in Quebec, in French. His personal contribution motivates us to continue the pursuit of our dreams as we move forward to achieve our long-term goals."
Since their very first round on the university circuit, Les Bleus, under head coach Isabelle Leclaire, have had tremendous success. In its 11 years on the ice, the team has competed in the U SPORTS National Championships nine times and picked up six medals, including two gold (in 2013 and 2016). The only francophone women’s university hockey team in Quebec and one of only two in Canada (the other being the Université de Moncton Aigles Bleus), the Carabins also made it to the RSEQ finals 10 times in 11 seasons. Over the years, the team has racked up an astounding record of 193 wins, 78 losses and only 23 losses in overtime or by shootout.
With more than 520 student-athletes on 23 teams every year, the Carabins is the largest francophone varsity sports program in the Americas.