The IX Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala – April 26, 2019
Clearing the air on NWHL GMs — Interview with Shannon Szabados — must-click women's hockey links
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Clearing the air on NWHL GMs
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Alrighty, on to the hockey news.
Things are starting to take shape as the NWHL season approaches. To begin, the NWHL confirmed Free Agency will begin May 15, something NWHLPA director Anya Battaglingo noted in my last piece for The Hockey News.
The date came as I followed up on the announcement of Kate Whitman Annis as general manager of the Metropolitan Riveters. Now, I’ve seen a few things floating around regarding GMs, so let’s start with the facts:
All NWHL teams had GMs and coaches in season one and two. Founder & commissioner Dani Rylan was the first-ever Riveters GM
By Season 3, the league announced all head coaches would also serve as head of business operations, including recruiting and signing players.
Last season, the only team to have a separate GM and a head coach were the Beauts. At least, that was the case until Nik Fattey took over as interim assistant coach coach when Seiling and Craig Muni were let go. When Fattey stepped down, Cody McCormick served as head coach & GM.
With the recent announcement of Annis as Riveters GM, I confirmed with the league that the GM role will again be separate from the role of head coach. With Annis being promoted, the Riveters have a vacant assistant coach position.
No coaches have been publicly announced. This is an important differentiation, as there were murmurs that Annis was reaching out to players regarding their plans for the upcoming season ahead of yesterday’s announcement.
Okay, so now that we have the timeline, what does this mean? Well, on a business side, the league has returned to separate roles, from what I gather, because they don’t have to double up. A league representative assessed that there is “too much going on” as the league builds to have a dual GM/coach role.
I am indifferent about the joint position vs the separation of the role. WNBA teams use both models — such as GM/head coach of the Minnesota Lynx Cheryl Reeve, listen to our own Lindsay Gibbs interview the four-time championship coach on the latest Burn it All Down — to varying degrees of success.
I have seen the WoHo Twitterverse bring up a valid question: If free agency starts May 15th, when will the two Canadian teams be announced?
A very good question. Also something Riveters fans will be following who is tapped head coach for Season 5. It is also worth noting that although Annis was with the team last year, there are still questions whether her appointment as GM is enough to quell serious concerns the team needs to address ahead of next season.
I’ve heard in passing that Connecticut Whale head coach Ryan Equale might be moving on, but no announcement has been made as of yet. Erik Wollschlager also reported neither the NWHL nor the Buffalo Beauts responded whether Cody McCormick will return as GM or head coach (Update by Erik here).
Either way, the league expects to announce at least one more GM by next week, and presumably the rest ahead of May 15th (so we hope). As far as the players, Battaglino is working hard to make changes to player contracts and … oh right, figure out how, if at all, the official folding of the CWHL next week will impact the NWHL player pool.
Hold onto your butts, folks!
This Week in Women’s Hockey
Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! erica@ericaLayala.com
Hayley Skarupa leads girls ice hockey clinic, promotes Aurora Games. Actress Olivia Munn named host for the August event in Albany, NY.
Not just WoHo-related, but VERY IMPORTANT: Hockey’s homophobia problem by Medelsohn.
CWHL teams are auctioning off jerseys, The Victory Press breaks down what it means.
NWHL season to expand to 24 games, per The Ice Garden.
“We’re really interested and invested in making the right decisions and the appropriate decisions … but we’re not on anyone else’s clock — that’s definitely an important thing,” Hilary Knight tells Forbes regarding the state of women’s hockey in North America.
Minnesota Whitecaps forward Emma Stauber lands head coaching gig.
‘Hockey in Heaven’ Women’s ice hockey team in India comes together.
Tweet(s) of the Week:
Kimberly Sass offering insight on wage gap
Five at The IX: Shannon Szabados
I spoke to Canadian goalie ahead of the 2019 Worlds for Sporting News Canada and asked a few fun questions. I don’t know about you, but I am mesmerized by Szab’s curls, and definitely wanted to know what she has planned for Jaxon’s Best Pet Victory Party.
Erica L. Ayala: Here are a few fun questions. First off, The Ice Garden had a March Madness-type bracket
Shannon Szabados: [Laughs]
ELA: [Your dog] Jaxon comes away with the title. Any words for your fans and fans of Jaxon?
SS: Yeah, I have one of those like nerdy pet mom things where I’m like, I was so excited that he was even in the bracket. And then it just turned into like a fun little thing between all the players online [laughs]. The final and semi finals had like over or close to 600 votes. So it was, it was fun. It was cool, it’s fun to because you see these players, you play against them, and now you kind of get to see their off-ice personalities. And you know what they do at home and they’re adorable, cute, pet dogs and cats. And yeah, it was fun!
ELA: So I know that, you know, tomorrow doesn’t exist and you’re working on the tournament, but we are very excited to see what the the pet party will look like.
SS: [Laughs] I know! I wish I was at home. I wanted to throw a big party and get him a cake and get him a hat and like everything. But it’s gonna have to, we’ll have to wait till I get home. But yes, all the pets are invited over and their parents, of course.
ELA: Okay, well, we’re looking forward to that. I also want to talk to you about … we spoke at the goalie camp for the NWHL and you threw me for a loop when you said if you could medal in a Summer Olympic sport, it would be baseball and that stuck with me. I’m a huge baseball fan and obviously, I’m sure you know that it is opening weekend.
ELA: So first question is, what is your team? Who’s the team that you’ve been rooting for growing up?
SS: Um, well being from Canada, I don’t have too many options. So obviously, I like the Bluejays. But now I moved to just outside Cleveland, I’m like 20 minutes from Cleveland, so I’ve been to quite a few Indians games over the last two years. So I got one – the Bluejays to cheer for on TV and the Indians to cheer for live.
We then talked about former Five at The IX guest Ella Matteucci’s Yankees (?) fandom before getting back to Shannon.
ELA: It looks like you played baseball and were a pitcher! Is that right?
SS: Yeah, I played baseball ‘till – I’m not gonna lie, I think I was probably better at baseball than I was at hockey …
ELA: [Laughs in absolute shock and complete admiration]
SS: … but there wasn’t really anywhere to go. Like, I played hardball on a boys team until I was like, probably 14 or 15. And I went to Nationals for it. And I pitch and played shortstop mostly, and then one year I broke my finger and they stuck me on first base. Because it was my throwing hand. So they’re like, ‘oh, go stand on first. All you gotta do is catch.’ So I played a little bit of first base.
ELA: Oh, man, so that means you’ve got a pretty good arm, if you’re playing up the middle!
SS: [Laughs]Yeah, Yeah, I guess so. Yeah, I absolutely loved playing baseball. I, it was definitely a hard toss up between hockey and baseball growing up.
ELA: Oh, man! All right, I’m gonna have to ask you about this some other time. But finally, Shannon. Another question I’ve been dying to ask you, as someone who is in the curly girl family, what is the hair routine? I mean, just the flow is always on point and I love it!
SS: [Laughs] I get asked this question so long. I just use, I shower and brush my hair while it is wet (pro tip) and then use Herbal Essences hairspray. That’s it!