Piece by piece, the Professional Women’s Hockey League continues to be built.
On Friday, the PWHL named the six head coaches who will manage the league’s inaugural teams, with Kori Cheverie taking over the Montreal franchise, Carla MacLeod leading Ottawa and Troy Ryan assuming control of Toronto.
Courtney Kessel (Boston), Howie Draper (New York) and Charlie Burggraf (Minnesota), the only non-Canadian in the list, are the other three names announced.
All head coaches and general managers will be present during the PWHL draft, taking place on Monday in downtown Toronto at CBC headquarters.
Live streaming coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. It will also be available on radio-canada.ca/sports and the Radio-Canada info app, and for international audiences on CBC Sports’ and Radio-Canada’s YouTube pages.
Jayna Hefford, PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations, says the group “have demonstrated leadership and a commitment to player development at all levels of women’s hockey.”
“I want to credit our General Managers for their efforts in identifying highly qualified candidates that are well respected and motivated to help our athletes reach their full potential in the PWHL.”
Ryan of Spryfield, N.S., took over as head coach of the Canadian women’s team during the 2019-20 season.
He navigated the squad to Olympic gold in 2022, back-to-back world titles in 2021 and 2022, and world silver this year in Brampton, Ont. Ryan signed a four-year contract extension with Hockey Canada last year.
Toronto GM Gina Kingsbury has hired Ryan a second time. She promoted him from assistant to head coach of the national women’s team while she was Hockey Canada’s head of that program.
Alberta university coaching shake-up
The appointments shake up the university coaching ranks in Alberta.
MacLeod, a two-time Olympic gold medallist in women’s hockey, and Draper, the winningest coach in U Sports women’s hockey (667 wins) after 26 seasons in Edmonton with the Pandas, will leave their coaching jobs with Calgary and Alberta respectively.
“On one hand, I am excited to be stretching myself and seeing what might be possible at that level of the game,” he said in a statement. “On the other, I leave a group of athletes and coaches that I truly love working with on a day-to-day basis.”
MacLeod led the Czech Republic to two world championships bronze medals in 2022 and 2023 for the country’s first podiums in the tournament. The Calgary native remains under contract with the European side until 2026 Milano-Cortina.
The PWHL, which opens a 24-game regular season in January, intends to accommodate the schedules of its international players in order for them to compete in both. Training camps will start on Nov. 13.
It is with mixed emotions I take this next step,” MacLeod said in a statement. “The excitement surrounding the PWHL, and the direction women’s hockey is headed professionally is certainly something I am proud to be a part of. I am humbled that Ottawa believes I am the right coach to help build their program and look forward to the opportunity that lies ahead.”
WATCH | Hefford discusses PWHL with CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux:
CBC Sports’ Devin Heroux sits down with the PWHL’s SVP of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford after their announcement of the founding six franchises.
Cheverie, who hails from New Glasgow, N.S., has been part of Ryan’s international coaching staff since 2020.
Her list of honours include the Canadian Women’s Hockey League’s Clarkson Cup in 2014 as a forward with the Toronto Furies and leading Nova Scotia to a silver medal in the 2023 Canada Winter Games as a head coach.
Cheverie also enjoyed success in the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association, winning the 2022-23 Secret Cup with Team Harvey’s as an assistant head coach.
She was also the first woman to be a full time coach of university men’s team when she was an assistant for the Metropolitan Rams from 2016 to 2021. Cheverie will coach hockey star Marie-Philip Poulin on Montreal’s PWHL team.
“The creation of the PWHL marks a pivotal moment for women’s hockey, and I’m committed to building on Montreal’s legacy of hockey excellence,” Cheverie said in a statement.
Birchard-Kessel, the sister-in-law of NHL player Phil Kessel and U.S. women’s team forward Amanda Kessel, coached Canada to gold at both the 2019 and 2023 women’s world under-18 hockey championship.
She’s worked on women’s college coaching staffs of Boston University and Princeton the last four years. The former defender from Toronto helped Canada win women’s world championship gold in 2012 in Burlington, Vt.
Burrgraf of Roseau, Minn., previously coached Bethel University’s men’s team and was an assistant coach of the University of Minnesota women’s team.
Former U.S. team star and Minnesota GM Natalie Darwitz hired Burrgraf, who coached her at Minnesota.