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Natalie Darwitz out as GM of PWHL champion Minnesota - ESPN

It wasn't one person but the input of many over the past five-plus months that led to the Professional Women's Hockey League removing Natalie Darwitz as Minnesota's general manager a mere week after winning the league's inaugural championship.

In announcing the move on Saturday, PWHL vice president of hockey operations Jayna Hefford said the results of a lengthy internal and external review, which included Minnesota players and staff, left the league little choice to make what she called a difficult but necessary decision.

«The feedback to us was pretty direct and pretty clear that there wasn't a path forward with the current personnel in place,» Hefford said during a Zoom interview with select members of the media. «It was with the work we did throughout the year, and it was clear that a change needed to be made.»

Without discussing the exact findings, Hefford said the review took into account numerous factors, including Charlie Burggraf's decision to step down as coach — he cited family reasons — a week before the season began in late December.

Hefford wouldn't confirm there being a rift between Darwitz and Burggraf's successor, former NHL defenseman Ken Klee, and several players, including captain Kendall Coyne Schofield. Hefford instead said «a ton of factors» came into play as a result of what she called a «really deep dive into what was going on the market.»

Klee declined comment, and Darwitz did not return several messages left by The Associated Press.

Klee will, for now, maintain his role as coach, while the league conducts a GM search. Klee and his staff will oversee the draft being held in Minnesota on Monday, and would also oversee free-agency decisions if a GM isn't in place when the signing period opens on