Toronto Maple Leafs fans received some surprising news recently. Assistant coach Paul McFarland will be leaving the team at the end of this season, to return to the Kingston Frontenacs, to be their head coach.
While it’s sad to see a bright mind leaving the Leafs’ bench, after just one season with the team, in my mind this gives the team an opportunity to make history. I think to replace McFarland, the Leafs should make a bold move and hire the first full time female NHL assistant coach.
For one thing, while being in one of the biggest hockey markets in the league, this person could act as a role model, not only to inspire other women to take up coaching hockey but to also inspire young female hockey players to chase their dreams.
This in turn could help improve the future of the women’s hockey leagues, and could inspire other NHL teams to improve or create their diversity hiring strategies.
But we’re not just talking about what this person could do for the game. A female coach on the Leafs staff could bring new ideas, new perspectives and new strategies to the team. For a team, a franchise that prides itself on doing things differently than their past management groups, it just makes sense to now make another bold choice.
Plus, the Leafs haven’t been shy in the past, putting women in important roles in the franchise. Barb Underhill serves as the Leafs’ skating coach. In late 2018, the Leafs hired Hayley Wickenheiser to be their assistant director of player development. So if any team could, and should, have a woman regularly working on their coaching staff, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe, General Manager Kyle Dubas, the ball is in your court.