Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

PWHL Minnesota is Spinning Out

PWHL Minnesota experienced the highest of highs weeks ago when they won the inaugural Walter Cup. 

The team beat Boston in a five-game series as the lowest-seeded team. Not only was it a championship that the state of hockey will remember, but it was a high point in the history of women’s sports. A newly refurbished and redesigned league, backed with so much support and interest, saw its first championship trophy be awarded. 

Now, Minnesota is feeling the lowest of lows. Fans are feeling conflicted and confused, the management doesn’t know what’s going on. PWHL Minnesota is effectively falling apart from the inside.

Minnesota GM Fired Days After Championship Victory

Natalie Darwitz is a hockey legend. She was the team captain of Team USA, elected to the IIHF Hall of Fame in its 2024 class, and won three gold medals at the World Championships, two Olympic silver medals and one bronze Olympic medal. 

She was born and raised in Minnesota, played hockey for the University of Minnesota, and coached there as an assistant. 

Darwitz was hired as PWHL Minnesota’s general manager in September 2023. The team won the Walter Cup on May 29. On June 8, the league said, “The feedback to us was pretty direct and pretty clear that there wasn’t a path forward with the current personnel in place.”

The Athletic further reported that a rift was created between Dartwitz and team head coach Ken Klee, with players divided and taking sides. Other sources said Klee and team captain Kendall Coyne Schofield were pressuring Darwitz to step down, but the league said it was due to extensive internal and external review. 

Darwitz wrote in a public statement

“I would like to thank the State of Hockey for their support of PWHL Minnesota. As the General Manager of PWHL Minnesota, I gave my heart and soul to provide a first-class experience to the players, staff and fans. My goal was to grow the game of women’s hockey and to show young girls their dream could become a reality. I am very proud of the team and organization that was built and the championship we brought home to this great State of Hockey. At this time, I am not able to provide any details regarding my departure.”

When Klee was interviewing for a job with Minnesota, he originally wanted to be the head coach and the GM. Now, with the vacancy, Klee acted as GM for the PWHL draft. For the future, Klee said on June 11 that he is not the candidate, nor that he wants to, replace Darwitz. 

A Controversial Draft Pick at 9

While acting as GM for the PWHL Draft, Klee drafted former Wisconsin captain Britta Curl in the second round, 9th overall. 

Curl won the national championship with Wisconsin in 2023 and had a career high 62 points in her final college season. On paper, Curl was a great pick for Minnesota, but it is the things off the ice that made her a controversial pick. 

Curl has shown her support for a transphobic statement made Jocelyne Lamoureux, a former Team USA member. She took to X to show her support in 2023. 

There are many LGBTQ+ players and fans in the PWHL. The league is supported by tennis legend Billie Jean King and her wife, Illana Kloss. It has become a safe space for both fans and players to express themselves freely.

People in Minnesota’s camp where shocked by the pick, according to Ian Kennedy. 


As the league prepares for year two, Minnesota will have lots to sort out. Figuring out a new GM, their system and their chances of a repeat. The PWHL has made strides in terms of growing the game of hockey, inspiring the next generation and advocating for social justice. While Minnesota’s pick wasn’t the most popular, the league will continue to grow and support equality in sports.

Main Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports


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