Although Montreal Stars living legend Lisa-Marie Breton-Lebreux is far from being long in the tooth, she has made a bold move by relinquishing her captaincy. Such an act is symbolic of the unselfish and team-first approach that Breton-Lebreux has employed throughout her storied career.
Whether it was leading the Concordia Stingers to CIS national titles as an All-Canadian or helping establish the Montreal Stars as one of the most prominent women’s teams in the world, she approached every victory as a team effort. In looking towards establishing a strong future for the Stars, Breton has appointed Cathy Chartrand to be her successor.
Like Breton, Chartrand also knows what it means to don the captaincy at the CIS level. Having served as team captain for the McGill Martlets program, she has also had the distinction of earning All-Canadian nods while claiming a CIS national crown. As the scoring champion among defenders during the 2012-13 CWHL season, Chartrand also holds the distinction of having manned the blueline for the Canadian national team.
Heading into the 2013-14 season, Breton-Lebreux had the opportunity to carve a unique mark for herself. Had she chosen to retain the captaincy, she would have been the longest serving captain in all of pro hockey this year. Ottawa Senators (NHL) captain Daniel Alfredsson held that honor last season yet he signed with the Detroit Red Wings during the off-season.
Considering the level of prestige that would have surrounded Breton-Lebreux had she remained captain, her focus has always remained on the team first. It is that quality which makes her a true leader. As the first captain in CWHL history to win three Clarkson Cups, she would be the first to attest that those victories came as a team effort.
For the new faces that comprise the Stars roster this season, hardcore fans can only hope that the rookies understand what Breton-Lebreux has meant towards building their game. To play with her would be the equivalent of playing baseball alongside Lou Gehrig or football with Jim Thorpe. She is one of those players that have proven that it is not about how many points you score. It is about being fundamentally sound and doing the little things right (which will take care of the bigger things).
As a side note, Breton-Lebreux is one of only two co-founders of the CWHL still competing. The other founder still remaining is Sami Jo Small, who stands between the pipes for the Toronto Furies. Of note, the other founders included Jennifer Botterill, Mandy Cronin, Allyson Fox, Kathleen Kauth and Kim McCullough.
Although her tenure as captaincy signified a remarkable chapter in Montreal hockey history, the most positive aspect is that Breton-Lebreux relinquished the captaincy on her own terms with grace and dignity. The opportunity to name her own successor is a gesture of respect bestowed upon her by the organization.
There are many players who state that they do not need a letter on their jersey to signify their leadership. Breton-Lebreux truly fits that description. Renowned throughout the league as a class individual who genuinely cares for her teammates, she quietly goes along with an ethereal serenity which is complemented by a remarkable wisdom for the game. For her contributions as Montreal’s captain during the nascent years of CWHL hockey, fans and players alike owe her a debt of gratitude.