PWHL names first GMs as league prepares for January launch

Natalie Darwitz, who won three medals with the U.S. women’s national team, is among the inaugural group of general managers in the new Professional Women’s Hockey League.

The first six general managers in the PWHL — a six-team league that will debut in January — are Darwitz (Minnesota), Danielle Marmer (Boston), Pascal Daoust (New York), Daniele Sauvageau (Montreal), Michael Hirshfeld (Ottawa) and Gina Kingsbury (Toronto).

“Securing highly qualified general managers was a priority to help build strong foundations in each of our original six PWHL markets and delivering professional standards for all players,” said Jayna Hefford, PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations. “The search process identified a lot of impressive candidates from which we’ve assembled an exceptional group with collective experience across the highest levels of the game both on and off the ice.”

The PWHL will play its games in a variety of facilities, from NHL-sized rinks to minor and junior league arenas. Rosters for the inaugural season will start forming during an initial free agency signing period that begins Friday. The majority of the league’s founding players will be selected during a draft Sept. 18.

The league revealed its draft lottery results in determining the order of selection with Minnesota landing the No. 1 pick followed by Toronto, Boston, New York, Ottawa and Montreal. The teams will then select in the reverse order in each succeeding round.

Darwitz won silver twice (2002, 2010) and bronze once (2006) for the U.S. women’s national team at the Olympics. She also won three IIHF World Championship gold medals and two NCAA national championships at Minnesota. Darwitz spent the past two seasons as associate head coach of the Gophers’ women’s hockey team.

“I get to help build a team with the best players in the world. How exciting is that?” Darwitz said. “It was a long time coming. It would have been fun to have this when we were still in our skates and playing, but now, here we are, and we’re going to make the most of it, and we’re going to be here for a long, long time.”

Marmer, general manager of the Boston franchise, was a player development and scouting assistant with the Boston Bruins last season, becoming the first woman to hold an on-ice role with the organization.

Daoust, who will helm the New York franchise, has been general manager of the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League since 2016.

Sauvageau, who will lead Montreal, coached Canada’s women to their first Olympic gold medal in 2002. She was also the first woman to coach in the Canadian Hockey League and founded the women’s hockey program at the University of Montreal.

Hirshfeld, general manager of the Ottawa franchise, has served as the executive director of the NHL Coaches’ Association for the past seven years.

Kingsbury, in Toronto, most recently served as vice president of hockey operations at Hockey Canada and has been the general manager of the Canadian women’s national team programs since 2018.

The PWHL is fully funded by Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Mark Walter and his wife, Kimbra. The Mark Walter Group purchased assets of the Premier Hockey Federation in June to effectively dissolve that league in order to launch the PWHL as the only pro women’s hockey league in North America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.q

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