The NWHL has announced that the Connecticut Whale will be coached by NHL veteran forward Colton Orr and NWHL veteran goaltender Laura Brennan for the 2019-20 season.
“I’m really proud to announce this dynamic duo of coaches for the CT Whale,” Whale general manager Bray Ketchum shared in the league’s press release. “I was blown away by Colton’s commitment to women’s hockey and the NWHL as we discussed the head coaching role throughout the summer. He has a specific vision for the Whale and incredible enthusiasm, and I know he will help take our team to the next level. Laura has immense passion for the game, is an outstanding teacher, and is very highly-regarded in our organization and around the league. She is an NWHL veteran who’s going to be a strong asset for our team.”
Orr played for the Boston Bruins, the New York Rangers, and the Toronto Maple Leafs during his 12-year NHL career. He was one of the toughest and most feared players in the league for half a decade. Orr is an active member of the New York Rangers Alumni Association and is a co-owner of the Danbury Colonoials (NA3HL).
Orr is the first former NHL player to step behind the Whale’s bench, but not the first former NHLer to coach in the league. Paul Mara, the head coach of the Boston Pride, is the only other former NHLer currently coaching an NWHL team.
Brennan was on the Whale’s staff last year as a goalie coach and briefly returned to the lineup when Connecticut was battling injuries. Brennan, 34, played her collegiate hockey at Minnesota State and Quinnipiac. While Orr is participating in CBC’s Battle of the Blades, Brennan will be the team’s interim head coach.
With the Whale’s coaching staff in place, all five NWHL teams now have a head coach and a general manager heading into the 2019-20 season. As of Sept. 17, 2019, the Whale have 16 players under contract, including three goaltenders.