Although the quest for the Stanley Cup ended with a heartbreaking loss for the Florida Panthers, there have been countless bright spots during the 2022-2023 season.
One of them is the breakout play of Brandon Montour, the veteran defenseman, who will be achieving the 500 games played plateau sometime next season, and put together an impressive 2023 campaign. He led all Florida defense in goals, assists, and points during the regular season as well as being in the top five amongst defensemen in points in the NHL.
However, one of the biggest achievements for Montour has been representing Indigenous people in the NHL, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Obviously there’s not a lot of us in the league and you know, to have two (the other player being Zach Whitecloud of the Vegas Golden Knights) at the [finals] and so close to winning it’s crazy it’s one thing that you look back and you see where you came from and your dreams are close to being realized; it’s nice to have two of us here,” said Montour.
As well, Montour notes how his heritage, who is of Mohawk descent and grew up at Ohsweken on the Six Nations of the Grand River—has played a role in his daily life.
“It’s just the way I grew up, you know, I think that’s just how my family raised me and my brothers and our support system back there whether it’s family, friends, the community—you’d like to stick to your roots and remember where you came from,” he said.
Montour has been focused on the task at hand during Florida’s playoff run, however, he hasn’t had time to see his success, but his community has especially with many watch parties popping up around Six Nations.
“I’ve seen a few photos and a few videos, but I heard that they had a couple of watch parties; I have all the support down there. Win or lose, they’re supporting me and the team. They’re happy with what I’m doing and what our team is doing,” Montour said.
The 29-year-old defenseman, who also played with the Buffalo Sabres and was originally drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in 2014, has been a source of inspiration to many in his community including many kids, and offers some advice to future hockey players.
“[It is important to] get out of your comfort zone. I’ve been to a lot of different reserves over the years where there are so many talented kids—whether it’s sports or education, whatever it may be, you know, you got to get out there, you got to work hard, obviously. And if it’s your dream, that’s what you got to work towards. And you know, it’s going to be hard but it’s a matter of the commitment, the work ethic and just striving to be the best player and the best person you can be,” he said.
He has also worked tirelessly (along with Brantford’s Adam Henrique) to help kids realize their hockey aspirations by being a part of the NHL Players Association’s Goals & Dreams Fund—assisting them in signing up for hockey programs and acquiring much-needed hockey equipment.
With the season wrapped up, Montour will look back at 2022-2023 as a tough, yet memorable one—not only for his on-ice achievements but some personal ones too. Montour and his wife Ryian welcomed their first child named Kai on June 4. However, this summer will bring time to reflect on what he and the Panthers accomplished (rarely does an 8-seeded team makes it to the Stanley Cup finals) and recover from injuries, as well as, enjoy time with his growing family.