CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada announced Tuesday that four long-time members of its National Sledge Team – captain Jean Labonté, Hervé Lord, Todd Nicholson and Paul Rosen – have announced their retirements from competitive sledge hockey.
All four players were part of Canada’s Paralympic gold medal-winning team at the 2006 Games in Turin, Italy, which marked Canada’s first-ever Paralympic gold medal in sledge hockey. All four finished their careers on home ice, playing their final games at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C.
“The dedication to themselves, their team and their sport made these men ideal ambassadors for sledge hockey, and their leadership on the ice and in the dressing room will be missed,” said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “These four players have been, and will continue to be, role models to young players and Hockey Canada looks forward to working with them as we grow sledge hockey across Canada.”
Jean Labonté, captain of Canada’s National Sledge Team, played 15 years with the national team, the last three of which were spent with the ‘C’ on his chest. In addition to his 2006 Paralympic gold, Labonté won IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship gold medals in 20 and gold at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in 20. He finishes his career with 50 points (14 goals, 36 assists) in 104 games since sledge hockey came under the Hockey Canada umbrella in 2004.
The Hull, Que., native made his debut with Canada’s National Sledge Team in 1996, taking part in four Paralympic Winter Games (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010) and five IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009). In addition to his gold medals, Labonté also won silver at the Paralympics in 1998, silver at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in 2009 and bronze at the world championship in 1996.
Hervé Lord is the longest serving member of Canada’s National Sledge Team, having debuted in 1991. He is one of only three men – along with Nicholson and Shawn Matheson – to play in all five Paralympic Winter Games in which sledge hockey was involved (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), winning silver in 1998 and bronze in 1994 to go along with his 2006 gold. In 93 games since 2004, Lord scored 15 goals and added 16 assists for 31 points.
A native of St-Pamphile, Que., Lord also played in five IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009), three World Sledge Hockey Challenges (2007, 2008, 2009) and two World Cups (1991, 1992), winning gold at the world championship in 2008, at the World Sledge Hockey Challenge in 20, as well as at the 19 World Cups. He was awarded the King Clancy Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2006 Paralympics, and was honoured as Canada’s top amputee athlete in 1989.
Todd Nicholson joined Canada’s National Sledge Team one year after Lord, in 1992. A five-time Paralympian, Nicholson was named to the all-star team at the Paralympic Winter Games in 19, winning a silver at the 1998 games to join his 1994 bronze. His career comes to a close with 53 points (11 goals, 42 assists) in 83 games since 2004.
The captain of Canada’s National Sledge Team on a number of occasions throughout his career, the Kinburn, Ont., native played at five IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships (1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009), three World Sledge Hockey Challenges (2007, 2008, 2009) and the 1992 World Cup, winning world championship gold in 20, World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold in 20 and the World Cup in 1992.
Paul Rosen was the oldest rookie in the history of Paralympic sledge hockey when he debuted on the international stage at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, taking to the net at the age of 41. The goaltender spent nine seasons with Canada’s National Sledge Team, finishing with a 55-15-1 record, a 1.04 goals against average and 25 shutouts in 72 career games.
A native of Thornhill, Ont., Rosen was a three-time Paralympian (2002, 2006, 2010), winning gold in 2006. He was also in goal at three IPC Sledge Hockey World Championships (2004, 2008, 2009) and three World Sledge Hockey Challenges, winning world championship gold in 2008 and World Sledge Hockey Challenge gold in 20.
Canada’s National Sledge Team will hold its selection camp for the 2010-11 season from September 10-12 at CFB Petawawa in Petawawa, Ont. A camp roster and schedule will be released in the coming days.