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Natalie Darwitz out as GM of PWHL champion Minnesota

A little more than a week after Minnesota won the first PWHL Walter Cup, the league is looking for a new general manager to lead the team.

The league and Minnesota GM Natalie Darwitz "have parted ways, effective immediately," according to a statement issued by the PWHL on Saturday. The statement doesn't say what led to the surprise departure.

"We appreciate all that Natalie has done for PWHL Minnesota in the league's inaugural season and her contributions to the team's championship success," the league's senior vice-president of hockey operations, Jayna Hefford, said in a statement. "We wish her the best moving forward."

The move was first reported by The Athletic on Friday.

Darwitz, 40, was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame last month after starring for Team USA over 11 seasons.

The three-time world champion recorded 58 points over 40 games at worlds, on top of 25 points in 15 games at the Olympics.

After several years coaching high school and college hockey in her home state of Minnesota, including time spent as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota, Darwitz was chosen by the league to launch the PWHL Minnesota team last September.

She signed defender Lee Stecklein and forwards Kendall Coyne Schofield and Kelly Pannek in free agency, then used the first-overall draft pick to add University of Minnesota star Taylor Heise about a week later. Heise won the Ilana Kloss Playoff MVP Award after leading all players in both goals (five) and points (eight) over 10 playoff games.

Darwitz and Boston GM Danielle Marmer connected for the PWHL's first trade in February, with Minnesota acquiring offensive defender Sophie Jaques in exchange for forward Susanna Tapani and depth