PWHL's first ever championship team completely imploads.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports  

PWHL's first ever championship team completely imploads.

The PWHL's first ever championship team is now at the center of a major controversy.

Jonathan Larivee

What should be a triumphant moment for women's hockey has quickly turned ugly, as the  Professional Women's Hockey League's first ever championship team now finds itself mired in a significant controversy.

On Saturday, the PWHL officially announced that they would be parting ways with PWHL Minnesota general manager Natalie Darwitz. The PWHL itself announced this decision due to the fact that all teams are currently owned by the league, making this the decision of the PWHL and the PWHL alone. There were already rumors floating around suggesting that Darwitz was being unceremoniously ousted from the championship team she built, but the announcement from the PWHL makes it official.

“We appreciate all that Natalie has done for PWHL Minnesota in the league’s inaugural season and her contributions to the team’s championship success. We wish her the best moving forward,” said PWHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Jayna Hefford via the official statement released by the league.

The move comes after multiple reports of a conflict between Darwitz, PWHL Minnesota head coach Ken Klee, as well as PWHL Minnesota star Kendall Coyne Schofield. The details and specific nature of that conflict remain unclear at this time.

Natalie Darwitz however is not just some general manager but was a hockey star in the state of Minnesota herself, a star that many have credited with helping make PWHL Minnesota a possibility. The very same Jayna Hefford who announced that Darwitz was effectively fired today had this to say about the now former PWHL Minnesota general manager when describing the success of the PWHL in the state.

"If she's not leading that team, maybe that doesn't happen," Hefford told the Star Tribune. "Natalie has great connections and relationships in that market. People there have such appreciation for who she is and what she means to Minnesota hockey. That counts for a lot."

No official reason for the termination has been provided by the PWHL or any of its executives, leaving fans in Minnesota who have supported the team both confused and frustrated at the entire situation. What should have been a moment of celebration for the PWHL is instead quickly turning into an embarrassment.