While every franchise in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League scrambles frantically to release the Montreal Stars vice like grip on the Clarkson Cup, the Boston Blades made a bold statement.
In the aftermath of the 2012 CWHL Draft, the biggest acquisition in the league was not a player, but a legendary coach looking to rekindle the glory in New England women’s ice hockey.
As the first NCAA women’s coach to reach the 200 and 300 wins plateau, respectively, former Brown Bears coach Digit Murphy is the new architect in the Blades efforts to build a Clarkson Cup championship. Having finished with the second best record during the 2011-12 CWHL season, the Blades were unable to qualify for the Clarkson Cup finals.
Filling the role of both head coach and general manager—Murphy has inherited a team that boasts an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent.
They feature United States national team members Caitlin Cahow, Gigi Marvin and Kelli Stack—key leaders of the only United States based franchise in the CWHL. Having long been involved with the United States national team in various capacities, Murphy is accustomed to dealing with elite hockey talent and should serve as a great motivator.
Her greatest legacy with the Bears includes coaching seven players that went on to compete in the Winter Games (Pam Dreyer, Kim Insacalo, Kathleen Kauth, Becky Kellar–a four time participant, Katie King–current coach of Boston College, Tara Mounsey and Chie Chie Sakuma), and one Patty Kazmaier Award winner, Ali Brewer.
The results of the 2012 CWHL Draft promises a robust return on investment. Fourth overall selection Hilary Knight is the centerpiece of a new offense that will no longer need to rely on its top line as its sole source of scoring. Providence Friars goaltending legend Genevieve Lacasse (and the first Friars player to play for the Canadian National Team) will relieve a lot of pressure off the shoulders of starting goaltender Molly Schaus. Coming off a Frozen Four championship with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Anne Schleper and Jen Schoullis will be counted on to provide leadership that has been lost with the retirement of Angela Ruggiero.
Although the last few years of Murphy’s career was marked by losing seasons at Brown (5 wins in 2007-08, 7 wins in 2008-09, 3 wins in 2009-10, and 2 wins in 2010-11), she is a highly respected figure in American hockey circles that will benefit greatly from a change of scenery.
In a league where many teams are still struggling to find their identity, Murphy brings structure to a team that is ready to not only compete for a championship, but win it.