Montreal makes an impact with first seven signings

Montreal’s first seven players include new faces to professional hockey... and some more familiar ones

Less than a month into its existence, the PHF’s seventh franchise has officially signed its first seven players.

Forwards Kim Deschênes, Jade Downie-Landry, Alexandra Labelle, Sarah Lefort, and Kristina Shanahan, and defender Brigitte Laganière have all signed contracts to play for Montreal for the 2022-23 season. All seven made the choice not to disclose salary terms of their contracts.

“This is a very exciting step forward for the foundation of the PHF in Montreal and across the province of Quebec,” said Kevin Raphaël, Team President. “This group is a great mix of exuberant youth and veteran experience, players with character, and who have led their previous teams to success. This is the start of a team that is going to be willing to work hard every week to win games and be role models for the next generation. We’re not just building a hockey team, we’re building a family, and I’m extremely proud.”

All seven of the newly signed players have significant ties to Montreal and the hockey community in Quebec.

Bettez, Deschênes and Lefort will be familiar to fans of the former CWHL Montreal Canadiennes, as the three of them were on the 2017 Clarkson Cup winning team. All three bring a wealth of experience and skill.

Bettez competed in the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship after many seasons of being overlooked by Hockey Canada. Bettez proved time and time again that she was one of the best players in the CWHL, earning rookie of the year honours in 2013 and following it up with the Angela James Bowl presented to the league’s top scorer in 2014. Before she was exceptional in CWHL, she was exceptional in university, spending five seasons with McGill University from 2007-2012. In those seasons, the Martlets won five conference titles and three national titles. Bettez was nationally recognized as rookie of the year in 2008, and player of the year in 2012.

Like Bettez, Deschênes played her university hockey in Montreal. She played five seasons for the University of Montréal Carabins from 2009-2014. In 2014, Deschênes and the Carabins won the national championship and Deschênes became the first women’s hockey player to have her jersey retired by a university in Quebec.

Lefort played for Boston University from 2012-2016 where scored 183 points in 146 games, putting her name in the BU record books as the second all-time leading scorer. Lefort was chosen eighth in the 2015 NWHL draft, but opted to join Les Canadiennes following her graduation, where she would play until the CWHL folded in 2019. She has spent the past three seasons as a member of the PWHPA’s Montreal hub.

Montreal also plans to introduce fans to some new faces with recent graduates, Jade Downie-Landry, Kristina Shanahan, Brigitte Laganiére and Alexandra Labelle all signed on for 2022-23.

Labelle played for the Montreal Carabins from 2015-2020. She played 97 games, scored 90 points and took the national championship in 2016. The 26 year old was also a member of the gold medal winning 2014 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship where she put up four points in five games.

Like Lefort, Shannahan opted for the NCAA over U Sports and played five seasons with the University of Vermont, serving as captain for the last two of them. She led the program to its most successful season ever, winning 22 games in 2021-22.

Jade Downie-Landry is another former McGill Martlet who has opted to play for Montreal. She spent six seasons at McGill from 2016-2022 (albeit one of them was spent not playing any games due to the COVID-19 cancelled season). Her final season was her best offensively, leading the nation with 14 goals and 27 points in 15 games. She was a U Sports All-Rookie team member in 2017 and won player of the year in 2022, 10 years after Bettez had done the same.

Laganière is the only defender signed by Montreal so far. The 25 year old will begin her professional career in Montreal after capping her university career with a national championship; the Concordia Stingers’ first since 1999. She was named a first team All-Canadian in 2022 after ranking fifth among RSEQ skaters in scoring with three goals and 14 assists.

With just over a third of the roster already signed, Montreal is shaping up to be one of the stronger teams in the 2022-23 PHF season. The team has yet to announce a logo or name, but an announcement is expected in the next few weeks. Additionally, details of the teams home games (which will be played all over Quebec) are expected to be announced around the same time as the PHF’s regular season schedule.