PWHL names six general managers as teams begin roster construction

By Sportsnet Staff

The new Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) announced on Friday the six general managers for its inaugural season.

Gina Kingsbury (Toronto), Daniele Sauvageau (Montreal), Michael Hirshfeld (Ottawa), Natalie Darwitz (Minnesota), Danielle Marmer (Boston) and Pascal Daoust (New York).

“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,” Jayna Hefford, PWHL senior vice president of hockey operations, said in a statement. “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.”

Kingsbury was promoted to vice-president of hockey operations for Hockey Canada earlier this year and has also been the general manager of Canadian Women’s National Team Programs since 2018. As a player, Kingsbury won two Olympic gold medals and six medals at the world championship while playing for Canada.

Sauvageau was head coach of Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

She was also the first woman to hold a position behind the bench of a QMJHL and Canadian Hockey League team, and was the founder of the women’s field hockey program at Université de Montréal.

“When I heard the news about Jayna (Hefford, the league’s senior VP field hockey operations) deep feelings of pride came over me, similar to those felt at the first World Championships, the first Olympics, winning the first gold medal for Canada. It’s a privilege beyond words, and the pinnacle of women’s field hockey,” said Sauvageau in the official LPHF press release.

Hirshfeld was the executive director of the NHL Coaches’ Association.

Darwitz was an associate coach for the University of Minnesota women’s team the past two years. She played for the United States three times in the Olympics.

Marmer works in player development and is a scouting assistant for the Boston Bruins.

Daoust most recently served as the general manager of the QMJHL’s Val-d’Or Foreurs from 2016-23.

The PWHL also held the first ever draft lottery Friday morning to determine the order of selection for this month’s player draft.

The Minnesota franchise won the draft lottery on Friday and will select first in the Professional Women’s Hockey League player draft later this month.

The draft will be a snake-draft format (the team picking last in Round 1 will select first in Round 2), meaning Minnesota will hold the first pick in the first round and the last pick in the second round.

  • Round 1: 1. Minnesota, 2. Toronto, 3. Boston, 4. New York, 5. Ottawa, 6. Montreal.
  • Round 2: 7. Montreal, 8. Ottawa, 9. New York, 10. Boston, 11. Toronto, 12. Minnesota.
  • — Rounds 3 to 13 to continue with the same pattern as rounds 1 and 2. —
  • Round 14: 79. Montreal, 80. Ottawa, 81. New York, 82. Boston, 83. Toronto, 84. Minnesota.
  • Round 15: 85. Minnesota, 86. Toronto, 87. Boston, 88. New York, 89. Ottawa, 90. Montreal.


By the end of draft day, teams will each have 18 players — three pre-draft free agent signings and 15 draftees. All undrafted players will become free agents immediately after the draft and can thus sign a standard player agreement with any team.

Free agency will then open at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Friday, giving teams a chance to sign three players each to set a foundation before the draft is held on Sept. 18.

Training camp rosters, which each must have a minimum of 28 players, will be fleshed out through this second free agency period and via negotiated tryouts.

After a team drafts a player, that team holds the player’s signing rights for two years. If a contract is not signed during that time, the player can become eligible again to be drafted. A player can declare for a maximum of two drafts.

The PWHL is the new women’s pro league in North America that is being launched after the former Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association — supported by an investment group that includes Los Angeles Dodgers owner Mark Walter and tennis great Billie Jean King — purchased the Premier Hockey Federation earlier this year.

Training camps are expected to open in November before puck drops on the season in January.

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