Captain Comeback
After a year away from the game dealing with a serious knee injury, Mélodie Daoust is back with Team Canada, this time in a leadership role
David Brien
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January 6, 2016
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As a gold medal hung around her neck at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games – a moment she describes as “the greatest feeling in the world” – Mélodie Daoust couldn’t imagine where hockey would take her next.

Soaking in her golden moment, she had no idea that Canada’s come-from-behind 3-2 overtime win over the United States in Sochi would be the last game she’d suit up in for more than 11 months.

After a gold medal victory tour with her Canadian teammates, and a few months of well-deserved rest and relaxation, Daoust got back to training in preparation for her return to McGill University in the fall of 2014.

In June, though, a routine training session went bad when the Valleyfield, Que., native stepped in a hole and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee, putting her 2014-15 season in jeopardy.

Just less than 18 months after her accident, though, Daoust has worked her way back to the national team, playing for Canada’s National Women’s Development Team at the 2016 Nations Cup in Füssen, Germany.

And not only is the 23-year-old (she turns 24 on Jan. 7, the day of the Nations Cup gold medal game) back in the Team Canada line-up, she’s wearing the ‘C’.

“It’s a bit of a new role for me,” says Daoust of being captain. “At the Olympics I was the young one who had to watch and learn from the veterans. But now, I’m the one wearing the ‘C’ so it’s my turn to set the example.”

“She’s always showing the trademarks of our program by being dedicated, skilled and humble, just like we want our athletes to be,” says Melody Davidson, general manager of national women’s team programs for Hockey Canada. “All the other girls know she’s an Olympian, so she needs to be herself; a fun person to be around and someone the other players know they can go and talk to.”

If there’s any adversity to be faced on the ice in Füssen, it likely won’t compare with what Daoust dealt with in her recovery and rehabilitation, so she’ll be well-prepared for whatever comes her way.

She had surgery to repair her ACL a few weeks after the accident, but struggled with the fact she couldn’t be on the ice, and wouldn’t be any time in the near future.

“It took about a month-and-a-half before I could walk again, and it was with a cane at first,” Daoust remembers. “The first weeks, I wasn’t able to work out at all; it was physiotherapy every day. It was tough on me mentally.”

But luckily, she had plenty of support, and had a pretty good “happy place” to go to.

“Everyone who approached me wanted to talk about the Olympics,” she says. “I think to some extent it helped me get through the tough times because it gave me something to think about while I was away from the game and watching from the stands.”

Daoust is thankful for the work put in by the McGill University staff, most notable physiotherapist Pierre-Luc Gosselin, but has high praise for another of her biggest supporters – Davidson.

“I don’t know how things are done in other countries, but for her to stay in contact with me through the whole process was something I really cherished,” she says of Davidson, who would regularly phone her to see how she was doing and how she was progressing.

With small steps towards getting back on the ice that included the stationary bike and light weight lifting, Daoust was back on skates only five months after surgery and back in the McGill line-up after six.

She made her return with the Martlets on Valentine’s Day, picking up a goal and two assists in a win over Carleton University, and added three assists the next day to help McGill upset the Université de Montréal, the top-ranked team in CIS women’s hockey.

Six points in two games after a faster-than-normal recovery from a serious injury? Not bad at all.

“All great athletes go through adversity,” says Davidson, “and Mélodie is a great athlete, so all credit goes to her for working hard and getting back to where she’s at now.”

Where she’s at now is back in the red and white of Team Canada, leading her country, and leading the way offensively – Daoust had five points in three pre-tournament games, her first true international competition since Sochi.

But does going from being the youngest player on the Olympic roster to Captain Canada mean added pressure? Not for Daoust, who’s had the chance to learn from some of the best leaders in the game.

“I learned from past veterans that the game is all about remaining calm and having fun at the same time,” she says. “That’s a message I always pass along to younger girls – the experiences that we get to live out here are really unique, so it’s important to soak it all in and enjoy every moment.”

After being kept away from the game she loves for so long, Daoust knows what she’s talking about.

Calm, having fun and enjoying every moment, she’s on a journey that has her back to wondering where hockey will take her next.

For more information:

Lisa Dornan
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 / 403-510-7046 (mobile)
ldornan@hockeycanada.ca

 

Morgan Bell
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427
mbell@hockeycanada.ca

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

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