Mother's Death Fuels Halifax Mooseheads Rookie To 'make Her Proud' | CBC News

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Halifax Mooseheads rookie forward Lou Lévesque is enjoying a breakout season with the team. The 17-year-old is motivated by the sacrifices his late mother made for him and comforted by memories of her.

Forward Lou Lévesque is motivated by the sacrifices his mother made and comforted by memories of her

Richard Woodbury · CBC News

· Posted: Feb 17, 2024 5:00 AM EST | Last Updated: 11 hours ago

Halifax Mooseheads forward Lou Lévesque, 17, says the death of his mother has made him realize how blessed he is to play hockey. (Richard Woodbury/CBC)Halifax Mooseheads forward Lou Lévesque thinks a lot about his final interaction with his late mother, Catherine Labelle.

It was September 2022. Just like every morning, she made breakfast for the then 16-year-old. It was early in the day, around 5:30 a.m.

“The big thing I remember is she said to me, like, ‘Have a good day, love you,’ and I just said bye. That’s the last word I said is bye and I did not even look at her, you know,” said Lévesque, now 17.

Later that day while at school, he was visited by two police officers from his hometown of Mont-Tremblant, Que. While Lévesque wondered what he could possibly have done wrong, they were there to deliver crushing news: his mother had suffered a cardiac arrest and was in hospital.

Today, Lévesque is in his first year with the Mooseheads and has become a fan favourite. The speedster is averaging nearly a point per game and often plays on the top lines, all while logging time on the power-play and as a penalty killer.

Lévesque is shown in a Feb. 8, 2024, home game against the Saint John Sea Dogs. (Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads)He’s motivated by the sacrifices his mother made for him and comforted by his memories of her.

“That’s what makes me live right now, as a hockey player, as a guy who’s going to school, every day as a person, just to make her proud and use what she was saying to me every day to just find some answers and get better,” said Lévesque.

Words from momHis mother always told him that everything happens for a reason. He draws on that daily, trying to make sense of the tragedy.

Catherine Labelle died in September 2022. She was 42. (Submitted by Lou Lévesque)Lévesque said his mother was on a respirator at the hospital. All he could do was hold her hand and talk to her. He remembers the realization that even the doctor couldn’t really help her.

“You have seven years of work in school for that,” said Lévesque. “And you have to wait too, like me. So we are at the same place.”

Labelle died Sept. 21, 2022, which was also a birthday for one of Lévesque’s two sisters.

A few days after his mother’s death, Lévesque returned to the ice for a practice with his team, the Saint-Eustache Vikings. His coach asked if he was sure he wanted to be there.

Lévesque’s legs wobbled during his first drill, but he briefly forgot what happened and had some fun with his teammates by the end of the session. He even smiled.

‘We’re pretty proud of him,’ says captainHalifax Mooseheads captain Jake Furlong said Lévesque’s season is all the more remarkable given his backstory.

“That would be tough on anybody, I think,” said Furlong. “And being away from his dad for this long is definitely tough on him. But he’s handling it well. He’s in the same mood every day. We’re pretty proud of him.”

Lévesque was drafted by the Mooseheads in the fifth round of the 2022 draft. An undersized forward — he’s billed as five-foot-eight and 150 pounds today — team brass decided it would be best for him to develop at the midget AAA level in Quebec because the Mooseheads had a lot of veterans and were primed to make a run at the league title.

Lévesque, right, is logging significant time on the power-play and penalty-killing units. (Trevor MacMillan/Halifax Mooseheads)Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell said the team had Lévesque pegged as a fourth-line player and penalty killer entering this season’s training camp, but were “floored” by his performance.

Russell said junior hockey players face many challenges. With most of the roster not being made up of hometown players, they’re often away from loved ones for the first time, they’re in new schools, and dealing with pressure they put on themselves and pressure from fans.

“He’s gone through … more than most of these kids will ever go through at that age,” said Russell.

Lévesque also missed about two months of play this season due to a broken scaphoid, which is a bone between the hand and the wrist. Despite the setback, Russell said Lévesque didn’t miss a beat upon his return.

“He just comes to the rink every day with a big smile on his face and works hard,” said Russell.

Playing in front of hometown crowds filled with thousands of people, Lévesque appreciates the opportunity he has.

“The biggest thing is I realized that there’s not a lot of 17-year-olds who find out how they are … blessed and lucky to be there playing their sport,” he said.

Finding comfort in mom’s favourite musicOne of the ways Lévesque remains connected with his mother is through music. He said while many teammates enjoy listening to rock music, he particularly enjoys listening to Québécois singer Isabelle Boulay, whose music touches on pop, folk and country. She was his mom’s favourite singer.

While the music often makes him cry, it makes him feel better, and it even makes him smile.

Isabelle Boulay holds up her trophy for show of the year at the annual Gala Adisq awards ceremony in Montreal on Nov. 8, 2015. She was Lévesque’s mom’s favourite musician. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)”It’s making me feel, you know, close to my mom,” he said.

Like many young hockey players, Lévesque’s goal is to make it to the NHL. He’s eligible for the NHL Draft this year.

“I’m gonna put everything I have to have a chance,” he said.


Richard Woodbury is a journalist with CBC Nova Scotia’s digital team. He can be reached at

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