On Thursday, the NWHL announced that Boston Pride general manager Hayley Moore will reprise her role for the 2016-2017 season. Retaining Moore as the GM is the first of many important moves the Pride will be making in the offseason and her continued leadership will be crucial to keeping most of The Pack together through free agency.
In a statement from the league, Moore said, "After the success of the inaugural season, we look to continue our momentum and carry on the winning traditions of Boston's professional sports teams." She also gave credit to the Pride's fans, thanking them for their support throughout the season despite some periods of uncertainty. Unlike in New York and Buffalo, where the roles of head coach and general manager will be handled by one person in the upcoming season, Moore will serve only as GM. Maintaining the separate leadership roles keeps management cleaner and also shows the unique influences of Moore, head coach Bobby Jay, and assistant Lauren McAuliffe.
During her first season with the Pride, Moore did two things no other GM in the league did: She won the Isobel Cup Championship, and she laced up her skates to help her team get there. Moore, who played her collegiate hockey for Brown and most recently coached at Harvard, took to the ice for the Pride during their December 27 upset over the Connecticut Whale. Maybe next season, she'll get her own jersey number in case of emergency.
Over the past week, the league named the rest of the general managers as well, beginning with the promotion of Whale assistant coach Lisa Giavonelli last Friday. Following the turmoil that the Whale's leadership structure went through towards the end of last season, the choice to award Giavonelli with the GM role seems like an obvious one. Giavonelli was the only member of the Whale's staff that lasted the entire season, as head coach Jake Mastel was replaced in January and the Whale went through three GMs during the inaugural season alone.
"To build our team this year I'm looking for players who have great character and will help us create good team chemistry on and off the ice,” said Giovanelli in the league's press release. “The talent level is going to be even higher than it was this past season, so to be successful we need to be committed to working hard every shift and playing disciplined in every zone.”
In a very sudden turn of events, the Buffalo Beauts will not retain Linda Mroz as general manager for the upcoming season. She will be replaced by Ric Seiling, who will also continue his role as Beauts' head coach. Mroz will reportedly remain a member of the Beauts' management team, but no reason has been given for her removal from the GM position. Given the Beauts' unexpected successful in the playoffs, you'd think that they would want to keep the leadership structure in tact.
The most interesting move, however, comes with the New York Riveters. Head coach Chad Wiseman will not only continue as head coach after his team was the first to be eliminated from the playoffs, he has also been named general manager. This means that Dani Rylan will no longer be serving as GM, likely to focus on her role as commissioner and the many responsibilities it may involve in the offseason. If the rumored expansion is actually happening, it makes sense that Rylan would step away from her position with the Riveters. It seemed a little strange to begin with, didn't it?
The offseason is barely three weeks old and the intrigue is just beginning. Surely more unexpected changes are ahead for this young league, be it new coaches or new teams. The next scheduled event is the opening of free agency on May 1, just a month away.
P.S. — Don't forget to watch the IIHF Women's Worlds!