Kim St-Pierre is the first female goaltender inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist and is most remembered for her incredible play in the Salt Lake City finale in 2002 when the Canadian women brought back gold for the first time.
She reminisces with Sami Jo Small about big games, great teammates, and lessons learned.
Scroll down for the full episode transcript.
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Kim St-Pierre Transcript
Unknown Speaker 00:02
Welcome to Sami Jo’s Podcast, the show that is all about gaining insights from top performers as they share what made their teams successful and translate those ideas into your everyday lives and businesses. Here’s your host three-time Olympian, professional speaker, author and entrepreneur, Sami Jo’s Small.
Sami Jo Small 00:22
Welcome to Episode 12 of Sami Jo’s Podcast, where I interview Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer, goalie Kim St-Pierre, from Chateauguay, Quebec. Kim went to McGill University where she rewrote the record books, earning top athlete honors as a US Sports National Athlete of the Year. She joined the national team in 1999 and went on to win 5 IIHF World Championships, earning Top Goaltender Honors in 2001. She played for the Montreal team in what was the end of NWHL, eventually becoming the CWHL, earning both a National Championship and 2 Clarkson Cups. For her incredible skills on the ice. This past year, she became the first female goaltender inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. I hope you enjoy my interview with Kim St-Pierre.
Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional indigenous owners of country throughout Canada and pay my respect to them, their culture, and their elders, past, present, and future.
So Kim, I had the pleasure of being your team teammate for more than a decade, and you had such incredible success for Canada between the pipes. But more than that, you’re such a great teammate and really a great person. So it’s really a pleasure now to be able to rightfully call you Hall of Famer Kim St-Pierre. Thank you so much for being on my podcast.
Kim St-Pierre 01:48
Thank you so much for inviting me, Sami, it was a pleasure to share all of those years with the national team with you.
Sami Jo Small 01:53
Well, we certainly had a lot of memories together, didn’t we?
So let’s start. I guess I’m curious about your life. Now. You’re raising two boys, along with your husband, Lenny, and what’s it like? I only have a girl so I’m kind of curious. What’s it like to raise two boys?
Kim St-Pierre 02:09
Well, they love hockey for sure. My boys are 7 and 9 years old already. Aiden is the youngest and Liam [phonetic 02:16] [crosstalk 02:15], it goes by fast but for sure I enjoyed so much my career with the national team but as you probably went through it as well, the transition made it so much easier to have kids because we want to play hockey for our whole life, and for me, I didn’t know what to expect but now that they’re involved in sports, it’s so amazing to see them, meet new friends and win and lose game and it’s a process and it reminds me of probably what my parents had to go through with me all these years and training camps, and so I’m so lucky that my kids like physical activity and sports so they’re not goalies yet. I know they’re getting older but sometimes they asked me for some tips and tricks but no the preferred to score some goals but I’m always there to support them, and we don’t sit alone and watch TV the fridge is pretty much like soccer as well and baseball for the summer, and then they get to play hockey and ski in the winter. So yes, we’re having fun.
Sami Jo Small 03:23
So they kind of learned after your husband how to score goals, I guess. Right?
Kim St-Pierre 03:27
Exactly. I’m not too worried about this. But no… It’s fun. I’m giving them the perspective of a goalie like, where the shoot and when and why.
Sami Jo Small 03:38
All the tips, all the tricks of the trade that we give away now later in life?
Kim St-Pierre 03:41
Sami Jo Small 03:43
Are there values that you try to instill in your boys from your career from being a woman in sport and being a woman in industry? How do you share and impart that into your voice?
Kim St-Pierre 03:56
Well, it’s so great, because last year in on Liam’s team, there was 9 boys and the goalie was a little girl. So it was so great to see all the boys were interacting with the little girl and they were all 8 or 9 years old, and it was so nice to see that there was no difference. Like, our goalie was just there every day, part of one of the boys and Liam and Aiden are always asking me why we don’t have a professional league. Like for them; Why don’t we see women play hockey on TV, like they don’t see a difference as a lot of people, but now it’s getting better. But I like how they see the hockey world as we’re hockey players, not they’re just girls and they don’t play the NHL, they don’t get paid. So I think it’s going to help the progress of the women’s game because if these kids 7 to 9 years old, don’t make as much of a big deal like it when you were younger has…. We had to go through so many bad words and same for her parents. But now the little girls they can play hockey without being scared of what the other people are thinking. So I’m excited to see this, and it’s because of all the hockey that we can see on TV, we want to see more so that the little girls want to play at the pro level but for the little boys to see how girls and women can play hockey…
Sami Jo Small 05:18
And how hard they work, I’m even noticing it at the NHL level that the younger NHL guys either went to school with girls that played– Had girls play on their team, saw female athletes at their gym working really hard. It wasn’t even a question it was— So any of the misogyny or any of the chauvinism that we had to deal with, hopefully, like you said, ‘a lot of that will go away.’ I have a friend of mine who we used to visit Montreal all the time, and her little boys only ever saw me play hockey. So whenever we came to play Montreal, they would come and visit and they went to the first Montreal Canadians’ game, and they saw Jocelyn Thibault play and his name was Jocelyn. So they assumed that he was a girl, and they thought that every single team just had one girl, and they were the goalie. So I thought that was a really cute story. Why is that a boy? That’s the goalie, that has to be the girl.
Kim St-Pierre 06:16
There like we still see it on a few teams. But now I think there’s so many opportunities for girls, little girls to play on an all-girls team, and there’s still some girls that prefer to play on boy’s team, and I respect that because that’s the way I went, and I think everyone has a different situation, a different personality. So that’s what I usually tell the parents that it depends on your child like, do they like the challenge? Are they too shy? Are they enjoying it? My kids do. Now there’s hockey 12 months a year, there’s like training camps. There’s private lessons, skills lesson. So I’m like, as long as your boy, your girl is happy, and they’re excited to go. Go for it. But for me, I still like the multi-sport approach where summer sports, winter sport, and if they’re a good athlete, they’ll make it if they need to make it but that’s not the end goal, and it wasn’t this for me, it just happened, and you know, we all have such a different story that led up to become one of the best in Canada. But there’s so much that can happen. But as long as they enjoy and then they make amazing friends and meet coaches as well, that’s going to guide them and make them grow. I think that’s the goal of kids being involved in sports.
Sami Jo Small 07:36
Well, I love what you said that it– Well, first, I love that you encourage both boys and girls’ hockey because that is important, and you know, I always say to parents to ask your daughter because she knows, like, is she having fun? And it or is it is she want to be around girls so she won’t be around boys. I know. For me, I loved my experience with my teammates, and I’m sure like you I had a really great experience. But not everybody does, and I’m really aware of that, and I know for my daughter, she definitely loves being around mostly little girls, and so I could see her. I mean, we got her into hockey this year, but it was a little bit different. Because you can’t go in the dressing room. You can’t do any of that. But I can see her loving the extra stuff, going to a tournament and being with your teammates and having the matching scarves and doing the cheers. I could see her just loving that. So it just depends, like you said, and I love that multi-sport approach as well. That’s definitely what I did, and I think it keeps you balanced too. So then you’re never really too up or too down, and I mean, why do we play sports at the end of the day? It’s not to go to the Olympics, it is to develop the person, right? And that’s what it can do.
Kim St-Pierre 08:45
Oh, exactly, and just different opportunities, like Liam was a soccer player and I decided to let’s try baseball. He is like, ‘Oh, you’re crazy. You’re doing two summer sports’. I was like, Yes, but there’s a 9years old, like it’s OK to practice once in a while, and he fell in love with the sport of baseball, and you learn how to catch and how to throw it, and how to hit the baseline, and that’s part of growing up as a child just to get all these skills and at some point, he’ll decide if he wants to be a baseball player soccer. So I know when you become an elite player, you have to make some hard choices like probably you did, and I did too. But now when they’re so young, when they’re still at the elementary school level, like I think it’s just touch every sport that they can and then see what sparkles something inside of them so they’re willing to put hours and hours and they’re having fun and so we’ll see what they do.
Sami Jo Small 09:39
And yes, I love that just exposing them to a bunch of different things and letting them find their passion. My parents were not hockey people and they allowed me to find my joy, to find things that I loved doing and I’m sure that it wasn’t always easy for them. But now I see that passion that my daughter has when she dances and when she does ballet and when she does gymnastics, and it wouldn’t necessarily be what I would choose for her but to see the joy on your kids faces there’s nothing like that. Were your parents always encouraging of you playing hockey or were they resistant initially and how many different things that they expose you to before you really can sort of focused on hockey?
Kim St-Pierre 10:22
Well, I started as a figure skater when I was five because I wanted to be on the ice, the figure skating was the only option. But my dad was a hockey player. He was drafted by the New York Rangers, never made it to the NHL, but he grew up playing against and with Marcel Dionne and Ivan Lamba.
Sami Jo Small 10:40
Was he a goalie or was he a forward?
Kim St-Pierre 10:42
Sami Jo Small 10:43
Oh, wow! Goalies best friend. I like it.
Kim St-Pierre 10:47
So yes, he understood the hockey world, and I have two brothers and they would always play hockey. So if I wanted to be with them, I needed to be the goalie. My older brother started playing hockey and we had a nice ice surface in our backyard. So a lot of people a lot of kids were coming to play hockey. So at some point, I kind of discovered the sport when we were not supposed to play hockey, like figure skating was going well. I was doing all these shows. But then I just fell in love with hockey. But I was the only girl until I was 18 years old in my minor Hockey Association in St. John’s study [unintelligible 11:25]. But I had such a great support maybe because being a goalie were a bit different.
So being a girl you’re already so different. But like I said, I was playing hockey only in the winters and I was a soccer player and a softball player as well. But I was introduced to tennis to swimming and to so many other sports and at some point, he goes, OK, I’ve got a few sports, cut a few sports, and I ended up like being a softball player for Team Quebec and then a hockey player in the winter, and that’s why at some point, I with the opportunity with the national team, I decided to become a hockey player. But I was just so happy whenever I had a practice or a game and I just– and my summer sport it’s funny, I was playing on all girls’ team, because that was the option where I grew up. Hockey was not an option. I was just with the boys, but soccer and fastball. I was just with an all-girls team. So maybe I got to grow as
Sami Jo Small 12:23
You have both with experiences.
Kim St-Pierre 12:24
Yes, how I needed to kind of be stronger with the boys being so different. But then with the girls, it was just so easy going, and I was not as shy. So I kind of had two personalities almost, and when I transitioned to women’s hockey was just so weird to me, different in the locker rooms, different in tournaments, and everything was very different. But the transition to McGill University, made it easy for me. Well, it was hard the first few months, but then it was the best decision of my life. So at some point, you have to move to the women’s game, and for me it was that late, but it was the greatest decision.
Sami Jo Small 13:02
Yes, my first women’s team was actually the Olympic team in 1998. So I had never seen other women play, and I don’t know if you had this feeling but because I was around guys so much, and most of them thought the girls couldn’t play hockey. That was the feeling that I had, and so when I stepped on the ice with these women for the first time, I was amazed that there were so many other women that played hockey, I just never seen that and they were so good. But it was so different as a goalie to still let in just as many goals. I mean, still, they beat me so much, and yet they weren’t shooting as hard. So I’d get mad at myself, and it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that it was different. But also like being able to shower after the game for the first time, like being able to stay until the coach finish talking. I was always in the boys dressing room. But I always had to be so quick changing, and I think later in my career, I became really slow because I finally could talk to people and be in the dressing room. So I love that.
So your dad played high level of hockey, but I know your mom also, even later in life as a triathlete, so she grew up doing a ton of sports. So what was her influence on your career? Was she initially reluctant or she just felt like if this is what you want to do, this is what you can do?
Kim St-Pierre 14:24
I had great support from the beginning from from what I remember, I think they did not want me to become a goalie. Everything that it involves and I was a really good skater because I had done three years of figure skating, and a few years ago the goalie was the player that couldn’t really Skate or put the equipment on you and figure it out. But for me one day they were looking for a Goldie I was probably 8 years old and the equipment was all brown. Nothing very attractive, but I don’t know… I just said. I want to try it and my mom was like, Oh, no, no, it’s like just One practice so I had my practice then it went well. So I said just one game and I’ll be done, and then I lost my first game like 08:00.
So my parents were high fiving each other and say, ‘OK, she’s gonna be done with this.’ But then they saw how sad I was and I didn’t even go sleep on my house. I went to, I think my grandma’s house because I was so mad at my parents. But I think they saw on this little passion for the equipment, I was always playing with my brother as a goalie as well. So they told me you have to play another game, and then starting from there, everything went so well, and I was having some success and then I never left them at the position. So I think they had to let me become a goalie. But no, my mom was always there to support she was excited to see me I think becoming a goalie and even if it was really hard with the playing boys hockey, she heard a lot of things for tryouts, and when we get picked over boy, it’s a lot of things are in games, but I told her like, I didn’t feel bad. I think I grew up becoming like a stronger person because of that, and I understood at some point that it was not personal to me, it was just small frustration, and probably you did the same when the little boys lose against you, and you have to see them at school the next day, then they’re shy, they don’t want to tell their friends that they lost against the girl.
So I kind of went the other way. It’s not negative, take it as a challenge, take it as a motivation, and I think that’s when I started becoming stronger, and my parents probably saw that, I was okay with all of this [crosstalk 16:42] player, that’s the way we have to go, and it was a real passion, watching the haves on TV and talking with my dad. My dad had a hockey school for 20 summers, so I was always involved there. So it’s just a part of our life and my mom; she’s still my idol, my role model for being so active. Two years ago did her 6th Iron Man and Tron blind.
Sami Jo Small 17:10
Kim St-Pierre 17:13
She’s really in a good shape. She like swimming, biking, and running, and then, because of COVID, we had to be separated like everyone else, and we started doing these online workouts. I don’t know if you remember, Emanuel Bliss…
Sami Jo Small 17:28
Yes. Always one of the fittest players.
Kim St-Pierre 17:31
Yes, and she’s a great CrossFit trainer. Every week she’s sending me workouts that I was zooming or facetiming my mom. So 150 workouts that we’ve done together. So she motivates me, I motivate her and yes, she’s been always there for me. You know, we see good times, bad times, and I think because of my dad and my mom, that’s what gave me the passion to be active, and now I have the privilege to do this with my two boys.
Sami Jo Small 18:06
Well, and certainly the strength to be to be on the world stage. I’m sure that you know, living with them that they imparted that on you, and I think probably the worst position in all of hockey is the goaltenders’ parents. so hard on parents. And, you know, I see, because I run a hockey school with our goalie school and every parent just shakes their head at the fact that they have to live with everybody else blaming them for their child’s goals, or whatever it is, but I’m sure they dealt with a lot. My mom ended up usually going to get a coffee when the game was really close, like going into the canteen, and then my dad was just calling the guy always telling jokes, like always having a good time and trying, paying attention to the game, but trying to not get too wrapped up in it. So I was very fortunate to not have that pressure from them. But I knew that it was really hard because everybody looked at them of all the time. So you talked a little bit about McGill and what that decision meant for you. I’m curious when you decided to go to McGill, there was other options, and then what did the impact of actually going to McGill have on you as a person first and foremost and then on you as a hockey player?
Kim St-Pierre 19:21
Well, I didn’t really have a choice there. I go to McGill. It’s not my hockey career was over. When I was about 14, 15, I got invited for the first time to go for Team Quebec. The girls team, the women’s team, so I didn’t know like you that other girls were playing [crosstalk] I got so excited. But for 4 years in a row, I was never good enough or I was not able to transition quickly for a weekend of tryouts. So I got to release four years in a row from Team Quebec so once you don’t make Team Quebec I didn’t make the junior major league in Quebec no major [unintelligible 19:56]. So basically I was done. I didn’t have any other options in front of me and going to the NCAA was not really an option. I remember visiting Vermont, they asked me to go for a visit, but it was overwhelming. I didn’t know if that’s the way I wanted to play hockey, playing with girls was not really going well.
Sami Jo Small 20:17
And it is pretty new for us back then too, it would have been just starting to be an NCAA sport. I know that I’m 2 years older than you, and it wasn’t even an option for me. I mean, there was no NCAA women’s hockey, it probably was brand new, and I’m sure what you saw was very different than what girls would see nowadays.
Kim St-Pierre 20:36
Yes, exactly and playing Junior with the boys and just in my small town, and then you go through a huge campus and like having to move away and not speaking English. I’m too scared. But then one of my last game, there was someone from McGill University, Dan Madden coming to ask me if I wanted to play hockey. So I was like, ‘Wow, that’s it.’ It was a life changing decision. Because I was like, OK, I might be done playing hockey, or I go to McGill, and I get to play for five more years of hockey. So I got all excited, and my dad was there to translate everything, and at some point, he said, you’re going to play for the women’s team, and then I was like, I don’t want to play women hockey, it never works out and it’s not scary. But it’s not [crosstalk]
Sami Jo Small 21:20
I felt the same way. I actually pursued Yale and a bunch of different schools talking to the men’s coaches, and of course, they didn’t want a woman on their team. But I didn’t want to make the transition. Because I didn’t know what that was, you know, in my mind, I thought a certain way because of what the boys thought and probably like you I just didn’t know what was on that other side.
Kim St-Pierre 21:41
No, that’s when you don’t know what it is. It’s kind of scary. But I learned that taking risks. Sometimes it’s the only option, and for me, I didn’t speak English, none of my friends from CGF [phonetic 21:52] were going to McGill. I had to move away and to play women’s hockey. But the only thing was once again, my passion for the sport of hockey, saying you’re going to get to play 4, 5 more years of hockey. So I decided to go. I met 2 French teammates when I visited the campus and going to watch to see the McGill campus is so amazing. It’s so prestigious, everyone talks about McGill, and then meeting to French Quebec from the team made it very special. I was so impressed that he could speak French and speak English. The rake [phonetic 22:28] is very old, it was not very attractive, but it made it so special, and I decided to go for it, and like I said, it’s a decision that changed my life. I met some amazing teammates, they’re still my best friends today. That’s where I met Lenny, my husband. He was playing for the men’s team. So at some point we we had the same classes together and and we got to become friends and our two kids together and learning English, and just a few months after going to McGill. That’s when I got my call to go for a tryout for the national team. So that was unexpected not being able to make team Quebec but someone believed in me and the camp was in Montreal that obviously shot arena. I don’t know if you remember?
Sami Jo Small 23:13
Yes. Where the stands were up high.
Kim St-Pierre 23:16
Yes. Well as she was my teammates from the softball Quebec as well. So at least she was there– We were there together for first camp, and I remember first time going around the ice. She’s like, wow, this is Danielle Goyette, and this is France St. Louis, and I was like, who are those girls as I have never heard of them. Because yes, we were not on TV very often. So it was just impressive to be able to step on the ice with all of you, and I don’t know, I felt good right away. Maybe the caliber was so much better than and then what I had seen before, and then I made the team that my first year going to McGill and the national team. But that whole year was a big transition for me to moving closer to downtown to go to McGill and going to school in English, transitioning to the women’s hockey world.
So it was a huge year and everything was so well because of the support that McGill was able to give me and especially like I said my teammates, I made friends with the other goalie. Her name is Amy Doyle. She did not speak French. I did not speak English. I was like, that’s gonna be fun. But I learned French, I learned English. We moved in in the same apartment with other hockey players. So she’s my best friend and Sarah Loomis from Toronto, and there were so many were there to support me, and they always laugh at the fact that my first few practices I didn’t know anyone and it was a big transition for them, from the men’s game. She they say that I would just come to practice. Don’t say a word, stop [laughter] get undressed and leave. She’s like, ‘Who is this girl’ and I learned a few words in English and being in a university sport is very special you go to school with your teammates and practice everyday so quickly I got into this new rhythm and I had so much fun outside of the ice as well which is so important, and I tried to be successful in this classrooms as well and finally graduated at some point but it was the best decision of my life hockey wise and for my life do
Sami Jo Small 25:30
I know you had an incredible relationship with Amy and she was at so many of the championships and just really a special person. Tell me about your relationship because you know, obviously here she is not getting to play many games. You’re getting to play a lot of games. What made her such a special teammate to be able to support you in that way? What were you able to learn from her?
Kim St-Pierre 25:58
She’s just so amazing even today always so generous over time, and and whenever I have a question, she’s always there to help so she was amazing, especially the fact that she was already at McGill when I decided to go, so she should have become the number one goalie but here I am, and not once I felt that jealousy or I felt that she was mad that
Sami Jo Small 26:24
That would have been a tough situation for her, for sure.
Kim St-Pierre 26:26
Exactly. So right away, our relationship was really good that she was learning a lot from what I was doing. But for me, I was also just starting with the national team program. So everything was new, and McGill was not a very good hockey program. We were just trying to build it and to make it a good hockey program and and I was not we were able to share some duties through like I was not playing all the games at McGill we’re able to share some games– For sure she was playing to the weaker team sometimes but I was gone also with the national team so she’s playing through the big games as well and the centralization year for 2001, 2002 she became the number one goalie because I was away so she knew her time to shine was coming but she was always a great leader on the team, always working hard and we were roommates as well. So we had so much fun, she was infizzin [phonetic 27:26] as well. So she helped me a lot. My homework and essays and
Sami Jo Small 27:30
What are friends for?
Kim St-Pierre 27:32
She kept me on track and even Peter Smith the coach at McGill always made sure that we were really good students as well. But yes, she she gave me a lot personally and and also as a hockey player. She always says that, ‘Oh, I was Kim’s greatest backup goalie.’
Sami Jo Small 27:50
I think I fought her on that several times. [crosstalk] she did it for more games. So I’ll give that to her.
Kim St-Pierre 27:57
Yes, when I said we’re going to be partners and I think it was– I’ve never really played with like a number one mentality at McGill. I was just happy to be there because we had so much fun as a team and we were just getting better and better over the years and and then I said even now she built my new website like she’s so generous that
Sami Jo Small 28:19
Which is actually a really great website. I was just on that today. So congratulations, Amy on that.
Kim St-Pierre 28:23
Yes, her husband. He’s a website designer, but now she’s a teacher, so now she had a little more time because she was teaching from home. She got to learn how to design websites as well. So yes, she helped me build my new website and so great to talk hockey, she’s at least fun. I’m gonna have fun but that’s OK.
Sami Jo Small 28:45
So tonight is going to be a little bit of struggle for you guys.
Kim St-Pierre 28:48
[crosstalk] to text each other but…
Sami Jo Small 28:51
She’s really special that you were able to forge those relationships and I know for a lot of the girls that went to college to play hockey, I mean, I never had that opportunity. That’s really where a lot of their lifetime friends were forged.
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Sami Jo Small 29:36
After McGill you went on to play for the Montreal team. Which I think when you first started were they called the axial?
Kim St-Pierre 29:46
Yes, because I played for the Quebec avalanche, which…
Sami Jo Small 29:48
Oh, right. I remember the avalanche. crosstalk]
Kim St-Pierre 29:53
For the Wingstar and then we change…
Sami Jo Small 29:56
And then they merge together…
Kim St-Pierre 30:01
crosstalk] and it became the Montreal stars. So..
Sami Jo Small 30:05
OK, and then eventually [unintelligible 30:08]
Kim St-Pierre 30:08
Sami Jo Small 30:11
So that that team was always so strong I can remember them always being at the top of the standings every single year, it was also Team Quebec at the majority of the times whenever you guys were selected to go to the National Championships. So I’m curious from your perspective what made that Montreal team so strong year after year and you guys won the national championships, you won the Clarkson Cup alongside what looked like some of your best friends. So really, I guess what made that franchise so successful and so special for you?
Kim St-Pierre 30:49
That’s a good question because Team Quebec always seems to have this special energy going. I think it’s probably the Quebec, the French [crosstalk 31:00] is different from everyone else in Canada but for me it’s two things; it’s hard and passion. Every single player on this team was always so excited first to see each other but that we got to play hockey because everyone was playing everywhere else but whenever we’re able to get on that team it made it very special, and if you remember Lisa-Marie Breton, when there’s a player like this on your team that’s everyone’s looking up to and she brings so much energy and pride and passion to the game so it was a special feeling to be a part of this group and some were on the national team, some were also playing at the university level but when we all got there it was just hard work all the time, and I think that’s what made us really successful.
Sami Jo Small 31:52
Yes, what ended up being [unintelligible 31:54], so the Montreal team I feel like always attracted some of the top players but people don’t realize that there are so many more players playing in other provinces than Quebec. In fact, at that point, wasn’t that many girls playing and yet you guys always seem to develop this incredible talent and these girls that kept playing long after their national team careers, I was always so impressed. So it must have been a really special environment to be in that dressing room. What was that like?
Kim St-Pierre 32:24
Oh yes, a lot of jokes going around [unintelligible 32:31] which was so funny and a lot of these players also when the NCAA way before they got to the Montreal Canadians so they all brought some different perspective, different experience and we’re a hockey group but we’re also really good friends, so I think that’s what helps that we got to see each other during the summer and there was an opportunity to hang out together. So then our team building was already made early on in the season. There were always a few new rookies but then at some point we got Maddie Phillip as a rookie, it’s kind of special that comes in and right away she feels welcome, and I think it was the mix probably of the younger players and the more experienced one and the ones that went through Team Canada and some only went to Team Quebec but we felt like one and everyone was pushing each other. So we definitely wanted to play our best and I mean the rivalry with Toronto and the other provinces or the league with– the Toronto, the Mississauga, the Brampton.
Sami Jo Small 33:41
All of those sort of iterations of whatever our team name was, but also then the Olympic oval, those were really the programs that were across the country, and yes, amazing to see what Daniel Sauvage [phonetic 33:51] was created in Montreal to sort of recreate what you guys had back then, with all those top players all in one central location is really neat to see.
Kim St-Pierre 34:01
Oh, yes, she created the Center 2102. So now all the players from the national team program and she’s attracting players from all over Canada coming to this center and they’re able to practice, they have skilled coaches, when I played we had to book ice time and book the skill coaches and try to get all the girls to practice on the same time. But now she’s supporting, giving all the resources that the hockey players need. So they don’t have to worry about everything else. So she’s been working so hard with her team behind her [unintelligible 34:39] also and the girls they love it like the melody that was there and not affiliate play, and so all these girls now are getting ready for worlds and the Olympic season but it’s hopefully there’s more centers in Canada. So the girls game can grow a lot and hopefully get to our professional league at some point but it’s the professional way that we’ve been looking for, and then finally, Sauvageau [phonetic] has been doing it. But as you know, the financial support is always a challenge. But now we see big companies, big names, wanting to put money and supporting women’s hockey. So I’m loving it to see all the progress that’s being made.
Sami Jo Small 35:19
Yes, and I feel like every day you open the newspapers and something new or great has happened for either a woman in the game or for women’s hockey, and that’s really, it’s a fun time to be a part of it, you know, I’m sure, not easy for a lot of girls in this situation that they’re going through. But it also, I feel like there is a lot of excitement, it’s a good, it’s an exciting time, because the future I think is going to be so amazing, and I can’t wait to see what that is but also, they get to be a part of building it, and what Danielle [unintelligible 35:54] has created, I think is what other centers should do. I mean, it seems like exactly what the athletes need, and yes, she’s attracted, pulled away a lot of athletes from other places, and those girls got centralized. So it makes sense at this moment. So yes, I guess let’s transition from Montreal days to your National Team days. So you were a goaltender in Three-Olympic Games winning gold every time. I’m curious, from your perspective, what your thoughts on on why and how Canada managed to come out on top for more than a decade? I mean, we weren’t winning everything but when it mattered, we won, and what do you think made that difference?
Kim St-Pierre 36:37
I think for sure, our commitment as individual players— Yes, sometimes we don’t get along with the coaches, or we get different playing times. But I think at some point we all buy in, and we realize that as a team, we’re good, we can win, and we’re bigger than just as an individual, there’s nothing to gain if someone scores three goals, or if the goalie doesn’t let any goal it. For me, the team was always bigger than everything else, and having the privilege to represent our country. It’s our national sport. I think right away, it showed our passion and commitment to winning, and we’ve always seen the pressure as a privilege. Like for us, it was something so special to be able to compete for gold every year, and for me, what made it special is the leadership group that’s been there, and when I started and then when I finished, I was a part of it but it seemed that the leadership group on this team is always so so special, and makes feel everyone that everyone has a big role to play in this final game, and I think probably also the respect that we all have for each other, understanding that some would get playing times and it would be harder for other people but when it was harder– Like it’s been harder for me, it was harder for you at some point. There was always someone to pick you up. That’s probably the team special feeling that we had that we were all in this together, and maybe it’s coming from our centralization when we would do the boot camp for three weeks. We needed everyone together like three weeks of intense off ice. It was nothing hockey related, and we had a bit of hockey but it was all about like doing a triathlon and hiking and running
Sami Jo Small 38:33
-Crazy long days, tired, exhausted?
Kim St-Pierre 38:37
Yes. So that’s probably what made us get to know each other more as individual and understanding that we were all in this together, and we needed everyone to survive all of this. Survive an Olympic season or World Championship, it’s never easy with the pressure. But then yes, we were able as a team to to come up on top for so many years.
Sami Jo Small 39:02
I love that line. We needed all of each other to survive.
Kim St-Pierre 39:08
Because I am true.
Sami Jo Small 39:09
I like how you phrased it, that we had incredible respect for each other, and I think that, you know, in that pressure environment, you’re competing for spots, you’re competing against, and the coaches are often– forwards are competing for spots on the power play or whatever. Everybody is wanting more than that what they had, but using that to fuel the team, and even though the coaches I think often put us, not you and I but all the team against each other to say, you know, you got to make this team. I think we had an incredible leadership crew as you mentioned, I just did a podcast with Cassie and she talked about what it was like to lead basically an entire team of captains too, that were captains on their own team. So we had this great group in my opinion. I mean, obviously I’m biased, but we had this great group of people that I think were, willing to share their disappointments, willing to share the tough times with each other, and like you said, ‘Have people to pick you up?’ I recently read that you woke up the morning of the final game in 2002, and you saw the sunshine, and you said that you loved the sun, and you just knew because of that we’re going to win that day.
Sami Jo Small 40:23
Do you think in that final game? I mean, you played exceptional. But do you think you played differently that day or do you feel it was just the culmination of all the training? And that was that was Kim, same here? Or do you think it was like more than you’ve ever done on that day? What was your feeling during the game?
Kim St-Pierre 40:45
No, I think it was a team thing, a team feeling because we had played the Americans 8 times. In preparation, we lost all games, we were never really getting close to winning a game. They had centralized 6 months prior to us. So the whole year, we felt like we were always behind but the coaching staff was believe in our system, believe in our plan and will peak. So that gets me going this peak idea that we’ll get there at some point, but we need it to be patient, and for athletes– For me, I need to win to feel good. You need to win to say, ‘OK, it’s going well, but when you lose, you lose’. It’s hard to play with confidence to show confidence and even talking to each other was always pretty much negative because we’re just losing against the team that will probably face in the final.
So I don’t know how we were able to keep our team together and still all be friends and trying to compete for this gold medal. But at some point, we realized that it would be one hockey game. Like I realized it did not matter. Everything else that had happened before. It’s going to be 60 minutes, and I think what helped; Yes, the sunshine but no [crosstalk] special feeling because I don’t want there was so much pressure, like first Olympics as well, and I knew the situation, you were into as well, we were competing for this final game. Training four years for this final game. So you know, it’s hard to deal with all of these emotion. So I saw the sunshine, it was just a sign. I think it’s going to be a good day today.
Sami Jo Small 42:31
Did you do anything personally for you between the semi and the final? Because you say that, ‘Yes, losing is hard.’ But also, as a goalie sometimes when you feel like things just aren’t going your way it’s hard. So did you do anything to regain that confidence that was apparent in that final game? Or did you just let the natural cycle go to where you peaked on that day?
Kim St-Pierre 42:57
Yes, I think it was just us, especially when we go to the Olympics, we started winning easily against the other country, and when we faced the [[unintelligible 43:06] and it was the semifinals we won 07:03, but some points are down like three one. So I think that brought our team together. I think that’s when we realized that we’re going to get through this together, like helped us energize our team as well. So when we won this, we’re like, OK, finally, my parents have tickets for the gold medal because like, what if you’re such a panic but as a team, we managed with Cassie’s [phonetic 43:36] leadership to say relax, everybody, we faced a lot of adversity this year. Like let’s go again, like it’s just one more piece to the puzzle that we’re going to add in, and then the final game scoring the first goal like Jaina’s goal, one of my favorite of all time, right away, I think there was like 30 pounds off of my shoulders like ‘OK, we’re winning 01:00.’ And then all the penalties that we got probably 13, 14 total. Every time you were able to beat that powerplay from the US team.
I felt our team growing and then growing and no panic from our bench and everyone was there then we scored a second goal and what a goal and then we got scored on but I didn’t feel that it really mattered. I think we were so composed the whole game and like I said we grew as a team and then finally won that game. But I didn’t feel extra pressure. For me, we had nothing to lose, and I think that’s probably why we showed up that day and felt and played free. Nothing worse could happen than losing 9 games. Nobody would talk, and we’re in the US and for me the crowd was sold out. But in my mind. I was like they’re cheering for us. They’re not cheering for the U.S team and at some point we finished on top.
Sami Jo Small 45:03
Tell me about that final 10 seconds, about what it felt like. I’ve often heard you say, ‘It felt like an hour’. You know, I didn’t remember too much about it until I wrote my book, and in the book, I had to re-watch the game several times. Couple of things that I never knew I didn’t remember. I mean, obviously, I knew but I didn’t remember your stick breaking halfway up the shaft, and that nobody else on the ice seem to notice what was going on that you’re at the top of your circles almost with no stick, and the US didn’t even notice they like came out of their zone, and then they went offside or something. So that was one thing, and then in the final seconds, you know, Jennifer Botterill basically 4 checked [phonetic 45:48] one of the Americans who had a fairly like good path to the net for checker and got the puck out, and there was time, there was time for you guys to sort of appreciate the moment as the pucks going down the ice. So tell me from your perspective, what that was like?
Kim St-Pierre 46:03
It was crazy… The last 10 seconds, like I said it lasted forever, and then you don’t want to look at the clock because yeah, you never know if the pucks going to come and but then I was realizing that we were Gold Medal Champion. So it was very special, and then as soon as the buzzer when I heard the buzzer, I just threw everything up in the oven and I saw a train coming like it was [unintelligible 46:31]and everyone jumps on top of me. But it was very special to hear. All the girls like we were so excited. Like it was a great build up from this Olympic season to becoming Olympic champions, and especially after losing in 98, it was our first gold medal. So it made it so special to be a part of this group.
Sami Jo Small 46:54
Is it true that you felt concussed and didn’t drink that night? Because you hit your head so hard on the post when they all jumped on top of you?
Kim St-Pierre 47:04
Yes. When I watched the slow motion video, I see that my — I fall on my back, and then my helmet is hitting a post, and so I don’t know if there was this or it was just being so amazed that we were Olympic Champions. When I grew up, I just wanted to go to the Olympics in every sport but hockey because I knew a women’s were not playing hockey back then. So for me, it was a dream coming true. So I don’t know– it’s that excitement and plus the posts in the head when we see our parents and you’re so exhausted and tired, and when we finally had to maybe have a drink or two I was like, Oh, that’s okay. We’re just going to celebrate
Sami Jo Small 47:50
-Celebrating the next 20 years.
Kim St-Pierre 47:52
Yes, exactly. But I was overwhelming. It was very special, and I was so happy that my parents came, and they were supporting me like this whole time, since I was 5 or six years old. So to have them with me in Salt Lake City was very special, and one of the picture, I see in one of the book I’m trying to put my gold medal through, one of the glass at the ring so my mom can actually touch it.
Sami Jo Small 48:18
Kim St-Pierre 48:19
-Part of this. But yes, thanks to your book, it’s bringing me so much memories. I don’t have a great memory. But being able to read the all of your stories, it makes us so special as well.
Sami Jo Small 48:33
Well, it’s interesting, because I also don’t really think I have a great memory. But I took lots of notes. So when I rewrite a lot of the notes, I had to go back and look at game tape because I thought that didn’t happen? Did it? Or this didn’t happen? So I think we remember things in our own way, like Cheryl Pounder says that; “She hasn’t watched the 2002 Olympic gold medal game because she doesn’t want to know anything she did wrong. She wants to just remember it in such a special way that she feels it.” So that’s not a bad thing either. But I want to dive a little bit deeper into our teammates, and specifically your relationship with Charline Labonté. She was also our goalie partner for a long time and the two of you had a really special relationship. I think for our listeners; it would be very incredibly valuable for people to hear how to support somebody in a workplace environment. That is— You know, you’re vying for the same spot. You guys had just such a special relationship despite all of that, and how did you guys deal with those feelings? Because at one point she came in, she was young, she’s the rookie looking up to you, and then another point she’s playing. So how did you guys manage that and did you guys communicate or it was just because you guys were great people you can deal with it?
Kim St-Pierre 49:52
No, but you are right. It’s the same in the business world and when I do some speeches, people like to know because everyone’s competing against each other. But in the end, we’re playing for a team, we’re working for a business and we want the business to do good, or we want the team to do good, and same thing when you were there, there was three of us, and we wanted the starting position and only one of us, and I think it’s a learning process, and for me was through experience because playing with the boys, I was mostly the No. 1 goalie for the last like 4 or 5 years of my career with the boys. So you get to the national team. We’re all number one goalies, and it’s, it’s a long process. We don’t sign contracts, and maybe that’s one of the reason why we got so good. It’s because we’re always out of our comfort zone. Every practice was so important to me, and I’m sure it was you and it was to try it because we knew there was coaches looking at us, the goalie coach…
Sami Jo Small 50:49
You never knew what was important to the coaches, right? Or what day they would be really watching you because it could be watching all the other players, you don’t know what they’ve– So you had to be on all the time.
Kim St-Pierre 51:00
Yes, exactly, and looking up to you, and then I see that you were working so hard, and same thing with Charlie is like, I need to work hard as well. So I think when you’re competing against people that work hard, that are dedicated and passionate, it brings the best out of you. We’re all competitive. But like I said, through my experience, I think I learned a lot that we needed to find a way to work together for the best of the team. But if it’s good for you, it’s going to be good for the team as well. You don’t want to expect someone to play bad, but I know that if you play bad or Charline plays bad, then we get a chance. It’s hard because on the other side, like I want you to have a good game because our team is going to win, and in the end, we’re going to become World Champion or Olympic Champion.
So once you see the positive instead of seeing going against each other, but we’re working together towards the same goal, like same thing in business, if I make you better, you’ll make me better than we’re all better in the end. So I think it was learning from your style that was so different than mine, and then learning from Charline style when she joined the national team, then I got to become better, and I think probably the same for you and Charline, and same thing when Shannon’s [phonetic 52:22] of us joined the program. Now she was the youngest, Charline was pushing, and then I was probably almost done. So same thing, learning from what Shannon would bring to this hockey team, how competing– she was competing every single day, every practices, every game was so special to see her play.
So I think once you find the best in your teammates or coworker and then apply that to your style of play of work, then we all become better, and we’re not always best friends for sure. Like there’s some days that it’s going better for me than for you or other goalies. but it’s a long process, and in the end we compete for the same team but it wasn’t always easy. But I think we learned a lot through this.
Sami Jo Small 53:13
That’s a great way of describing it that lifting each other up, lifts everybody up, and lifts the team up, and like you said it wasn’t always easy, and in my book, I tried to get across those feelings that it is natural to feel that way, to want somebody else to fail or for a team to not possibly go on without you because you want to feel valued. But I think what made that team very special is that we were able to find our value even if you weren’t the person scoring the big goal or you weren’t the person on the powerplay that others were able to lift you up in those moments. That’s what I found, and I know one of your best friends from the team ended up being Caitlin Boudiette [phonetic 53:58]. So I wanted to end this podcast with– I know that she has been an incredible player and incredible person. She’s had such an influence on the game at so many different levels. But what do you think made her such a special teammate and really a special leader within that program and still now?
Kim St-Pierre 54:19
Yes, definitely what she’s doing now for the women’s game, either at the grassroots level where she’s organizing all their hockey tournaments, and she’s putting on a team of peewee girls to compete in the big Quebec boys hockey tournament, and now working with the Concordia’s as a head coach. She brings so much knowledge to the game experience. I’ve seen her coach and I’m always impressed by your speeches, and the way she’s a leader for women’s hockey and our career like how she tells her story. It’s a great one where she started, as a wrong young rookie with no confidence.
Sami Jo Small 55:00
She was so quiet when she first came in. She said nothing. I mean, she didn’t even use her size. She just felt like she was shy. But that wasn’t really her until she came out of herself.
Kim St-Pierre 55:13
I know exactly and the English barrier as well. She didn’t speak a lot of English when she joined the national team, and she had to accept the role that she played in 2002, and then it made her becoming like a leader on the team and she even played defense at some points for the national team.
Sami Jo Small 55:32
[crosstalk] She was nicknamed a defenseman on the team. I forgot about that.
Kim St-Pierre 55:36
Yes. They tried her on defense and she went with it and remember she had issues skating a bit backwards, it was not easy to transition from a forward to now skating a lot more backwards but she took it as everything for her as a challenge and she always wants to win whatever we do. So that’s your mentality that; if you do it, you do it to win. You do it at your best, and she was inspiring to me for that. Every single workout that we had to do it in the weight room. She was always going all out. Same all practices, she was going all out so that made her hard worker and wanting to improve. She would stay on to do so many breakaways on us she wanted to have this low blocker shot perfect so that she would score for games.
Sami Jo Small 56:26
The amount of one timers that she would make me stay on after just over and over and over and over she has a hard shot, probably one of the heaviest shots that I’ve ever faced. So you guys did it more often than I did but yes, she just always wanted to do that little bit extra.
Kim St-Pierre 56:45
Yes, so she definitely just went one step at a time and learn from such amazing leaders on our team like as Tyrese, Russell and Vicki [phonetic 56:53] and Cassie and Francais St. Louis was her idol. So she took it one step at a time and so everyone had so much respect from Catheline, from all her hard work and intensity that everything was so intense to her and then she finally was the captain for the national team and now seeing her as a coach. I would see her be recruited to work for NHL team at some point because she would bring so much. Hopefully we keep her on the women’s side of the game but she would deserve this kind of reports to needy as we see that more and more women are working for NHL teams now and also she’s a great and precious friend, we played all our years together, we played pass ball together with Team Quebec. So she’s been an amazing friend and now seeing her with her little family. It’s pretty cool to see.
Sami Jo Small 57:46
Oh, that’s amazing, and I think that we were both very lucky to have such special teammates, and somebody like Keto [phonetic 57:54] i think is, you know, not known by many people as to why she was in the position she was in. Because often she was quieter but to me, after probably two or three years on the national team, she really came into her own and started to speak her voice, and to me, I think she was just an incredible leader. I mean, we had so many leaders on the team. But I have such respect for the way that she included everybody and wanted everybody to feel valued within that team. So it’s awesome to see that you guys are still such great friends, and I love seeing her as a mother and going through all of these new challenges. So overall, what was your favorite moments that you lived in hockey besides the Olympic experience? What would you say that you have taken away and maybe favorite moments around word? — What do you think that you’ve taken away from hockey into motherhood now?
Kim St-Pierre 59:03
Well, that’s a good question. Oh, for sure. In hockey, we’re the center of the attention. We do everything for us, and when I had my two sons, they’re 19 months apart, then it’s not about us anymore, there’s other things to consider and giving my time to my kids. Probably patience is something very important, and as hockey players we learn how rest was important to take care of ourselves, and I think as mums to at some point we forget about us. We always want to give so much to our kids. So take some time for myself as well. It makes me a better mom, and yes, I’m still learning. I know they’re 7 and 9 but it’s the best I remember when I was a hockey player still and Cassie had her daughter and she said you’ll see when you’re pregnant and you have your first child. It doesn’t compare to anything that you live through hockey and she was right. It’s so special to grow through pregnancy and then finally have my first son. Hockey was very special but now I really appreciate as well this new life, being a mother and now also coaching a little bit with my boys. So it’s a lot of fun, but definitely—- that’s what I’m bringing into my mom’s life.
Sami Jo Small 1:00:30
I love it. Well, that’s a great way to end this. Um, it has been such a pleasure for me to really get to know you away from Team Canada, I think that I’ve gotten to know you more since being your teammate, because I think often, we’re at the other end of the of the rink, and you’re kind of in your own circle of friends, and I’m in my own circle of friends, and I think we always got along. But I feel like every event I do with you, I learn more and more about you and just your humbleness, your support, and your your real love of the team, and your willingness to want to build everybody else up is with something I’m so grateful for, and I think so appreciate having had you as a goalie partner for so long, I think is what made all of us better.
So thank you. I’m grateful for the time and the memories that we were fortunate enough to share, and it really truly is a pleasure to get to call you my friend. So thank you so much for being on my show.
Kim St-Pierre 1:01:32
Thanks, Sami, and same to you. You were there when I first started and you showed me the way so I owe you a lot as well.
Sami Jo Small 1:01:38
Well. Thank you. All right. Good luck with everything. Take care.
Kim St-Pierre 1:01:41
Unknown Speaker 1:01:45
Thank you for listening to Sami Jo’s Podcasts. If you have suggestions for guests in the future who would like to book her for your next event, advertise on this podcast or to purchase her latest book, the role I played, please go to www.samijo’ssmall.ca