(Photo: Melissa Burgess)
With the NWHL's fourth season approaching this fall, and the introduction of the league's newest team in Minnesota, it seems like a good time to take a look at another aspect of the game: the coaches - and who they are going forward.
Former NHLer Paul Mara was announced as the new head coach of the Pride earlier this week. He becomes the third head coach in Pride history, succeeding Thomas Poeck (2017-18) and Bobby Jay (2015-17).
Mara was previously an assistant coach with the U.S. Women's National Team since 2016, including the 2018 gold medal-winning Olympic squad. Prior to that, he appeared in 732 NHL games with several different teams -- including the Boston Bruins -- and last played in 2013.
"To have the opportunity to coach these incredible athletes in the NWHL, and especially to do so with my hometown team, is a really exciting opportunity for me," Mara said in the league's press release.
"My experience coaching women's hockey with the national program has been so fulfilling, and I can't wait to get started at the pro level with the Pride," Mara added. "We'll be an up-tempo team. I want my players to be creative offensively, and we'll be responsible in our own end. I'm confident we'll have a very successful team that's also a lot of fun to play for and to watch."
Although no official announcement has come yet from the Beauts or the league, word has it that Ric Seiling and Craig Muni will return as co-head coaches for the 2018-19 NWHL season.
Seiling and Muni took the helm in Buffalo in 2016, succeeding Shelley Looney. Looney was the first female head coach in the NWHL.
Meanwhile, the Beauts have a new general manager: Nik Fattey, Vice President and Director of Hockey at HARBORCENTER, the Beauts' home rink. Fattey previously served as a scout for the Buffalo Sabres for eight years.
The Riveters' head coaching job definitely has an opening, and it will be interesting to see who comes in to coach the reigning Isobel Cup champions.
Chad Wiseman, the only original NWHL head coach remaining, has taken a job with the Burlington Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He leaves the Riveters after three seasons, including last year's successful championship win.
It's anyone's guess who could come in to fill his spot, but with free agency opening on June 1, an announcement should come sooner rather than later.
Notably, Wiseman had also been acting as the Riveters' general manager, so that position is vacant as well.
Historically, the Whale have had the least consistency in their front office. Jake Mastel was the team's first head coach for half a season before Heather Linstad replaced him.
Ryan Equale then came in to coach Connecticut last season and led them to a 3-11-2 finish.
His return for another season hasn't been confirmed, but the NWHL did quote him in a piece about goaltender Sydney Roesler last week.
With the Whitecaps joining the NWHL, it appears they've shaken up their front office as well.
Robb and Shivaun Stauber will share coaching duties in Minnesota for the upcoming season. Robb joins the NWHL after acting as head coach (above Mara, who joined Boston) for the USWNT, including the 2018 Olympic squad.
Having two USWNT coaches in the NWHL in the upcoming season could bode well for Olympians who may look to rejoin the league.
When the news of the Whitecaps joining the NWHL was announced, it was clear that the team's co-founder Jack Brodt expected to remain in his positions as head coach and general manager. (See this piece from the Star-Tribune.)
It's unclear what changed in the span of a week or so between that article and Stauber's announcement, or if Brodt will remain on as GM.