Brandon Montour didn’t win the Stanley Cup but at Six Nations he’ll always be a champion and a hero

Florida Panthers star Brandon Montour came very close to winning the Stanley Cup this season. And while, he’s still chasing that dream, every time he returns home to Six Nations on the Grand River, near Brantford Ont., he is welcomed as a champion and a hero.

“When I was a kid — I don’t really know the last person from Six Nations to make it to the NHL,” Montour said. “I didn’t really have that, but to become neighbours or see me at a lacrosse game. Things of that nature. It gives them that hope, I hope, that they could get there one day as well.”

Montour and fellow NHL star Adam Henrique of the Anaheim Ducks held their annual golf tournament on Friday at the MontHill Golf & Country Club in Caledonia. The tournament raises money for several charities in the region that help kids stay active through sports. 

Henrique said the tournament allows them to “give back to the people who have supported them their entire careers.”

Community members from Six Nations, Brantford and Hamilton were there as well as former and current NHL players including Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and former player and coach Bruce Boudreau.

Mark Hill, elected Chief of the Six Nations of the Grand River was there to support Montour and said that during the playoffs he “noticed the young people. And their faces. Their big smiles watching the big screen while one of our own was skating around. He is so inspiring and it pushes us to our work even more.”

Hill said that Montour’s playoff run helped Six Nations children believe in themselves and develop more confidence. He said “when leadership thoroughly pays attention to the needs of young people, First Nations young people are going to be thriving.” 

The third annual Henrique Montour Golf Classic took place in Caledonia on August 4, 2023 at the MontHill Golf & Country Club. (Simon Dingley/CBC)

People across Turtle Island knew the Montour name, aunt said

Montour’s Panthers were defeated by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the 2023 Stanley Cup Finals last June. Montour established himself as a star defenceman during the season with 16 goals and 57 assists and 73 points in 80 games. In the playoffs, he scored eight goals and added five assists for 13 points in 21 games but played with an inured shoulder that underwent surgery after the finals, and prevented him from playing in the tournament. 

The playoffs were special for Montour for another reason. Just as game 1 in the NHL final series began, Montour’s wife Ryian went into labour. Montour left Las Vegas around 2 a.m. after the game and flew back to Florida on a private jet, making it in time for the birth of his son, Kai. 

He said he arrived in Boca Raton, Fla., around 6:30 a.m.. Kai was born around noon and he was back in Las Vegas by 10 p.m. the same night.

While Montour was playing, family, friends and community members in Six Nations got together in community watch parties to cheer on. 

During the playoffs, Montour’s aunt, Jaime Lynne Montour, told CBC Hamilton that she’s been watching him play since he was a kid. She said seeing her nephew play for the Stanley Cup feels “big.”

“You hear from people across the nation, across Turtle Island, and they know your name? … To see your last name in the lights like that? Like, you know for a fact the ancestors, they’re so proud.” 

Florida Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour's jersey sits on the table at the Henrique Montour Golf Classic in Caledonia on August 4, 2023.
Florida Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour’s jersey sits on the table at the Henrique Montour Golf Classic in Caledonia on August 4, 2023. (Simon Dingley/CBC)

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