On April 25, 2019, the Metropolitan Riveters and the NWHL announced the hiring of Kate Whitman Annis as the new general manager for the team. This came along with a league-wide announcement that general managers would be hired for all the teams in the league in an effort to cater more towards player needs and the overall promotion of the game.
Following this announcement by the league, they also announced that former Riveter and Connecticut native Bray Ketchum will be the general manager of the Whale this upcoming season.
“The NWHL is hiring general managers for each club, giving them responsibilities that include overseeing team operations, player personnel, and event management. The GMs will work with the league on the hiring of coaches, trainers and other essential team staff,” they stated in a press release.
This, of course, came days before the massive boycott of any North American league by over 200 players from across the world. Obviously, if the league can not put together teams, the general manager position won’t really matter. However, just the hiring of Whitman Annis is a big step for the league.
Whitman Annis is the first general manager to be named since the league abandoned having them at all after the second season of the league, with the exception of the Buffalo Beauts, who are the only team who are not league-owned and have had their own general manager throughout every season. Whitman Annis is also the fifth female general manager ever hired within the league, and the second of the Riveters after current league commissioner Dani Rylan.
Whitman Annis was hired as the assistant coach of the Riveters prior to the 2018-19 season along with former Devil Randy Velischek, who served as head coach for the past season.
“I am honored and excited to be able to continue my relationship with the NWHL as the Riveters’ general manager,” Whitman Annis said in a league press release earlier this week. “Putting my business background to use to advance the game for girls and women around the world is a lifelong dream of mine. I am looking forward to working with the players and the league to make the NWHL’s fifth season a success.”
Along with a Masters of Business degree and 18 years of working in education and government entities, Whitman Annis played hockey for four years at Wesleyan University and went on to coach at every amateur level of the game.
“What the league and the players are doing is so important,” she said. “I am thankful to be able to collaborate with the great players of this generation and honor all who once only dreamed of a professional women’s hockey league.”
There has been no word yet on who will replace Whitman Annis behind the benches or if Velischek will continue his position as head coach at this point in time.
With free agency for the league beginning May 15, hiring general managers across the league is important, however, cutting it close considering the league plans on expanding with two Canadian markets and all players will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. The added difficulty will come due to the apparent boycott across most major women’s hockey leagues that includes over 200, and counting, players mostly from the former CWHL and NWHL announced on May 2. These new general managers will have their work cut out for them.