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Dani Rylan Kearney resigns as NWHL advisor, president of W Hockey Partners

The Dani Rylan Kearney era of the NWHL ends after six years

2016 Isobel Cup - Game 2 Photo by Andy Marlin/Getty Images for NWHL

Dani Rylan Kearney, the founder and original commissioner of the National Women’s Hockey League, has resigned from her position as league advisor and the president of the W Hockey Partners, the group that owns and operates the Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale, Metropolitan Riveters, and Minnesota Whitecaps.

Today’s news comes six years to the month after Rylan Kearney founded the NWHL in March 2015. In other words, the Dani Rylan Kearney era has come to an end half a dozen years after she launched the first professional women’s hockey league to pay its players.

The NWHL announced a change in its governance structure on October 13, 2020, making Tyler Tumminia interim commissioner and announcing the resignation of Rylan Kearney. Rylan Kearney immediately became the president of the NWHL’s teams that did not have a private owner, a collective that was eventually named the W Hockey Partners.

The league’s early growing pains under Rylan Kearney have been well-documented and criticized by many, including prominent members of the U.S. women’s national team players who now play with the PWHPA. With that said, it’s hard to think of a woman who has shaped the landscape of professional women’s hockey in North America as much as Rylan Kearney has in the last decade or so.

The Ice Garden has learned that Andy Scurto, a governor on the NWHL Board, has stepped into the vacated role of W Hockey Partners president until a permanent president is put in place for the league’s seventh season. Scurto is an insurance and tech entrepreneur and a significant NWHL investor. He led the financing of equity funding for the league in November 2019 that ensured “viability and continued growth” for the NWHL.

This isn’t the first major change behind the scenes of the NWHL we’ve seen since Lake Placid. Chris Botta, the league’s head of media relations, resigned on Feb. 26. He had been with the league since its second season. It was believed to be an amicable parting. It’s worth mentioning that there was no quote from Rylan Kearney in the league’s press release about her resignation today.

We’ll keep you updated with any developments on this story.