Michael Hirshfeld is the general manager of Ottawa’s new professional women’s hockey team. In a press release Friday morning, the PWHL announced the names of the six general managers appointed to lead teams.
Hirshfeld is a lawyer who worked as the head of the NHL Coaches’ Association for the last seven years. His start in sports was a role with Ottawa’s minor-league baseball team and Montreal Expos affiliate, the Ottawa Lynx. Hirshfeld worked as a lawyer and investment professional in Toronto before joining the coaches’ association in 2016.
The job will be Hirshfeld’s first at the head of a hockey team. He isn’t hiding from the fact that he doesn’t possess a wealth of experience as a hockey team manager. His expertise is in the legal and financial aspects of the business. He indicated that he is surrounding himself with a knowledgeable team that brings the experience necessary to evaluate player talent and build a competitive team.
“I’m not afraid to call and ask for help,” Hirshfeld said during the media availability, referencing a question about his network of knowledgeable connections.
“You have to look inwards and be critical of what your skillset is and what it isn’t. You have to bring in people around you who will help you fill those gaps.”
As a self-described collaborator, Hirshfeld and the team’s leadership are working together to build what they said will be a skills-based team. He said they decided the team’s identity would be “gritty” and “dynamic.”
Beginning at 1 p.m. on Friday, he can sign up to three available players. Following the free agency period, Ottawa will pick fifth in the 15-round selection draft later in September.
The team will be the first pro women’s hockey to call Ottawa home in over a decade. Unlike the other five PWHL cities, Ottawa wasn’t home to a PHF or PWHPA team. Hirshfeld was still confident that Ottawa’s sports scene will be a great fit for the team.
Hirshfeld indicated they were developing a solid relationship with the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group’s major junior men’s hockey team, the Ottawa 67s. The PWHL team will share facilities with the 67s at the biggest arena in downtown Ottawa, TD Place. The arena seats 6500 fans but is scheduled to be replaced by a new arena on the same multisport property in the next decade.
The construction of a dressing room specific to the PWHL team is underway at the arena and, according to Hirshfeld, will be ready when players arrive.