(PWHL Press Release)
TORONTO, ON (September 1, 2023) – The Professional Women’s Hockey League (PWHL) today announced the General Managers appointed to lead hockey operations for the league’s six teams. At the helm heading into the inaugural season are Danielle Marmer (Boston), Natalie Darwitz (Minnesota), Danièle Sauvageau (Montreal), Pascal Daoust (New York), 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.”
Among their duties, GMs will be responsible for hiring coaches and support staffs and roster building. The player selection process officially opens with an initial free agency period commencing September 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Teams will have until Sept. 10 to sign three players to Standard Player Agreements before the majority of the league’s founding players are chosen in the 2023 PWHL Draft on Sept. 18.
Marmer joins the PWHL from the Boston Bruins where she served the last year as a Player Development and Scouting Assistant, becoming the first woman to hold an on-ice role with the organization. Prior to her time with the Bruins, Marmer was the Director of Player Development at Quinnipiac University and assistant coach for Connecticut College’s Women’s Hockey team. Raised in Dorset, Vermont, Marmer’s playing experience includes being a member of the winningest class in Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey history. She was also a National Scholar Athlete, a member of the ECAC All-Academic Team and a Quinnipiac Scholar-Athlete Award winner for all four years of her NCAA career.
Darwitz had a prolific playing career winning three Olympic medals, three IIHF World Championship gold medals, and two NCAA National Championships at the University of Minnesota as one of the most renowned women’s hockey figures across the State of Hockey. A former U.S. Olympic Team Captain and three-time NCAA All-American, Darwin spent the last two seasons as Associate Head Coach of the Gophers NCAA DI women’s hockey team. The Eagan, Minnesota native also served eight combined seasons as head coach at the DIII and high school hockey level, and in 2022, served as a U.S. Olympic Team Tryout Evaluator. She is a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame, “M” Club Hall of Fame, and the Minnesota State High School League Hall of Fame.
Sauvageau has spent decades as one of Quebec’s most prominent women’s hockey icons. Originally from Deux-Montagnes, Quebec, her wide range of experience includes coaching Canada’s National Women’s Team to its first ever Olympic Gold Medal in 2002, becoming the first woman to coach in the Canadian Hockey League (QMJHL), and founding the women’s hockey program at the University of Montreal. In 2019, Sauvageau launched Centre 21.02 in Verdun, QC – the first and only recognized High Performance Hockey Centre for women athletes in Canada where she’s served as President, Chief Executive Officer, and Coach. Sauvageau also held the GM role for the PWHPA’s Montreal region from 2020-23 and head coach from 2020-22.
Daoust’s distinguished hockey career spans nearly three decades across a multitude of significant roles. Most recently, he served as the General Manager of the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL from 2016-23. Prior to his time in the QMJHL, Daoust was an Assistant Coach for the startup University of Montreal’s women’s hockey team, winning two national championships, along with three additional national podiums, in seven seasons. He has also been an on-ice personal consultant since 1993, mentoring players and teams across the NHL, AHL, ECHL, Europe and Universities/Colleges.
Hirshfeld served as the Executive Director of the NHL Coaches’ Association (NHLCA) for the past seven years, where he provided support in a variety of areas to coaches of all levels across the NHL and AHL. His role also included fostering the NHLCA’s relationships with hockey federations and associations across North America, Europe, and Asia. Founded in 2001, the NHLCA’s goals include: developing coaches, giving back to the community, and growing the game on a global level. Hirshfeld began his career working in Toronto as a corporate lawyer and holds a B.A. (with honours) from Huron College, University of Western Ontario, and an LLB from The University of Western Ontario.
Kingsbury joins the PWHL with a plethora of experience both on the ice as a player and off the ice in management positions. She most recently served as Vice President of Hockey Operations at Hockey Canada and has also been the General Manager of Canadian Women’s National Team Programs since 2018. In her role, she notably won Olympic gold in 2022 and back-to-back gold at the 2021 and 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championships. On the ice, Kingsbury was a member of Canada’s National Women’s Team where she became a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and appeared in six IIHF World Championships (3 Gold, 3 Silver). Born in Uranium City, Saskatchewan, Kingsbury played her college hockey at St. Lawrence University where she remains in the university’s top-5 in all-time scoring.
Fans can stay connected to the PWHL and register for email updates at thepwhl.com. Follow the new league on all social media platforms @thepwhlofficial plus all six new team accounts @pwhl_boston, @pwhl_minnesota, @pwhl_montreal, @pwhl_newyork, @pwhl_ottawa, and @pwhl_toronto.