Hayley Moore discusses new role as NWHL deputy commissioner

August 26th for FanRag Sports

Hayley Moore has made the most of her retirement from competitive hockey.  The former Boston Blades forward has since been involved with girls and women’s hockey at essentially every level.  This hockey season will be her first as deputy commissioner and director of player development for the NWHL.

FanRag Sports spoke with Moore last week to discuss her new role, the NWHL Draft, and a few changes to the leadership structure at the team level for the third season.

Building relationships

The NWHL hopes to recruit the best talent to compete in the league and build relationships with USA Hockey and Hockey Canada. To do those things well, the league created the role of deputy commissioner.

Moore expressed her excitement to continue in a new capacity with the NWHL.

“I really believe in our league and what it has to offer. Not only for the current players and fans, but for the next generation,” she said.

Her resume includes time spent as an athletic director at St. Mark’s School, an assistant coach at Harvard, the current director of operations for the East Coast Wizards girls and women’s hockey programs, and skills coach as USA Hockey development camps as recent as last spring. Not to mention, Moore spent the first two seasons as general manager of the Boston Pride, winning the inaugural Isobel Cup in 2015.

There a few people better suited to build connections throughout the pipeline of girls and women’s hockey. Moore seems a perfect fit for a league hoping to grow its exposure to feeder markets and develop current players.

“[This position] was a great fit for me to be able to take those relationships I’ve built  … to get our name out there, but also to answer questions,” Moore said.

Explaining the NWHL Draft

When asked what her role looks like in practice, Moore referenced the recent NWHL Draft. Leading up to the draft, Moore assisted the league with scouting, communication with college programs and other things to prepare teams for their selection of rising seniors.

The league draft is different from contemporaries like the CWHL, NHL or even women’s leagues like the WNBA and NWSL. The Ice Garden offers a helpful review of the current draft process and history.  Moore spoke to us about why the current structure is the best option for the league, for now.

“On the men’s side, the coaches and the NCAA have had a set path for their players,” Moore said. “On the women’s side, that sort of timeline is not necessarily charted and outlined.”

The league is still making introductions to coaches, programs, and even players. Additionally, since salaries are less than the standard fine on the men’s side, recruitment requires additional planning.

While not perfect, Moore feels the current format fits into the realistic capacity of women’s pro hockey.

“There are obviously pros and cons to both,” she said, “but I think the way we are doing it right now, there are far more pros based on what our league has to offer.”

Moore added that once the goal of making hockey a full-time job is reached, switching the NWHL Draft might make sense.

However, the league is not structured to be supportive of players having to relocate with short notice. As of now, the overwhelming majority of professional hockey players must have other jobs to manage expenses. To that end, Moore is also the league’s first director of player development.

Dual role

Once top talent is recruited, now the league is hoping to keep players. The NWHL in just two seasons has lost players like Kelli Stack and Alex Carpenter to the new CWHL partnership in China, players like Kelley Steadman and Jessica Koizumi to coaching, and Molly Engstrom and Blake Bolden to European leagues. With possibly those headed to China as the exception, women’s hockey doesn’t offer a big payday at any level. Athletes continue to play only when their passion is supported with resources and development.

Moore is tasked with finding the appropriate support to keep NWHL athletes successful on and off the ice. From access to nutritional resources to managing a new city, Moore enjoys that her new role is to be a resource to all the players in the league the same way she was for Boston players as the Pride GM.

“I think these players deserve the world and I enjoy helping them put things together so their experience is exactly what they want and need it to be,” she said.

New league structure

With Moore focused on building relationships league-wide, that leaves a vacancy in Boston for the general manager role. However, due to a few changes in leadership structure, there will be no general manager in Boston, or anywhere else for that matter.

“There will be a little bit of restructuring as far as how each market is run … but a lot of consistency in each market,” Moore said.

When following up with the league, FanRag Sports determined that each head coach will also serve as the lead for hockey operations for their market. Each team will also have a head of business ops and Moore will be the league liaison for the coaches in their new expanded roles.

Chad Wiseman (Riveters), Ric Seiling (Beauts), Thomas Poeck (Pride) and Ryan Equale (Whale) will serve in the newly formed roles.  Lisa Giovanelli will not return to the Whale this season.  The league is expected to release more details in the future.

What the future holds

Overall, Moore is excited to do what she enjoys most in the hockey world, growing opportunities for players. For her, success in the third season will be measured by the success of the out-of-market games.  Growing the game is a term often used when a young fan presses against the glass in awe of the NWHL players on the ice. Practically, the excitement of the next generation is a baseline of what the league has accomplished, and what needs to be done.

The goal is still to reach beyond the North American market, and Moore’s focus on player development is one place where the league might see immediate gains in that area. Additionally, Moore has always been driven to have more women in leadership roles in hockey. She has forged a path for herself and perhaps others as well.

Before ending the call, Moore shared a story about an exchange with a U19 player who wanted to know more about the NWHL.

“She said, ‘That’s what I want to do when I grow up,’” recalled Moore, assuming the player had dreams of suiting up for one of the teams.

*Note: This article was edited to clarify the dual role of head coach and director of hockey operations. 

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