May 30th, 2024

PWHL New York changing coaches as Draper steps down, returns to Alberta

By John Wawrow, The Associated Press on May 11, 2024.

FILE - Professional Women's Hockey League New York head coach Howie Draper goes over a play with the team the morning of the inaugural PWHL hockey game in Toronto, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. PWHL New York is changing coaches after reaching a mutual agreement with Howie Draper to step down and return to his former job to coach the University of Alberta women's hockey program, the league announced on Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson, File)

PWHL New York is changing coaches after reaching a mutual agreement with Howie Draper, who decided to step down and return to his former job coaching the University of Alberta women’s hockey program, the league announced Saturday.

The move comes a week after the Professional Women’s Hockey League closed its inaugural season with New York finishing last in the six-team standings with a 9-12-3 record.

As part of the agreement, Draper will remain involved with New York in a special advisory role with the scouting department. He returns to an Alberta program where Draper spent 26 seasons and holds the Canadian university women’s hockey record with 667 career coaching wins.

This marks the league’s second coaching change after Charlie Burggraf cited family reasons for his decision to step down from his job with Minnesota in late December, less than a week before the start of the season. He was replaced by former NHL defenceman and former U.S. women’s national team coach Ken Klee.

“I’ve been blessed to have been a part of PWHL New York this past season,” Draper said in a statement. “It was an honour to have worked alongside this outstanding group of staff and athletes. I look forward to the opportunity to remain involved in the continuing growth of the program.”

New York won the PWHL’s inaugural game with a 4-0 victory at Toronto on Jan. 1, and opened the season 6-4-1 before going on an 0-5-2 skid. The team was eliminated from playoff contention with three games left in its season.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have gotten to know Howie both personally and as a coach,” New York general manager Pascal Daoust said. “His contributions will forever be a part of this team’s foundation, and I feel privileged to have worked alongside him.”

New York also faced adversity in having difficulty finding a home and generating support in the tri-state area. After splitting home games between Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the New York Islanders’ home in Elmont, N.Y., the team closed its season with two games at the New Jersey Devils’ home in Newark, N.J.

AP Women’s Hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-hockey

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