canada africa partner reservation Natalie Darwitz out as general manager of PWHL Minnesota, sources say: ‘It’s pretty shocking’

Natalie Darwitz out as general manager of PWHL Minnesota, sources say: ‘It’s pretty shocking’

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PWHL Minnesota general manager Natalie Darwitz is leaving the organization, team sources said The Athletics on Thursday evening.

The news comes just eight days after the team won the PWHL’s first-ever Walter Cup Championship and four days before Minnesota will host the 2024 Draft and the first-ever PWHL Awards.

“It’s quite shocking,” a team source said.

Darwitz, 40, was hired in September 2023 to lead Minnesota – which, like all PWHL teams, is owned by the league – heading into its inaugural season. According to a team source, Darwitz was told earlier this week that she would not be back as general manager for the 2024-25 season and was offered alternative options within the league. She is not expected to be at the draft table for Minnesota on Monday night.

The PWHL would not confirm the news of Darwitz’s departure.

Darwitz is synonymous with women’s hockey in Minnesota. She grew up in Eagan, Minnesota, and won two NCAA championships with the University of Minnesota. She won three Olympic medals with Team USA and was inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. Darwitz was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in May during the Minnesota final.

As general manager, Darwitz built a deep and competitive roster through the draft and free agency led by American stars Taylor Heise, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Grace Zumwinkle, Lee Stecklein and Nicole Hensley. She chose to draft several players who were local to Minnesota, as many players earned close to the minimum salary of $35,000 last season. In February, she traded forward Susanna Tapani for a young star defenseman in Sophie Jaques, who led all defensemen in scoring in the postseason.

Minnesota was one of the top teams in the PWHL during the regular season, and although they found themselves in the playoffs after a five-game losing streak, the team got back on track when it mattered most, by finishing No. 1 Beating Toronto in the semi-finals and Boston in five games in the Finals.

“Besides building it from the ground up and setting everything up and drafting and signing the players who led us to a championship, she spent hours and hours doing everything: waking up at four in the morning, moving equipment to the rink, hanging up dirty equipment, unpacking bags, that kind of thing. I mean, things GMs don’t do,” a team source said. “(It’s) really a shame.”

Required reading

• PWHL Minnesota wins first-ever Walter Cup championship: ‘We knew we had to have it’
• From Heartbreak to Heroes: How PWHL Champions Want to ‘Change the Mojo’ for Minnesota Sports
• The inaugural season of the PWHL is over. What worked and what are the top priorities for year 2?

(Photo courtesy of University of Minnesota Athletics)