Dupuis (in the white jersey) competing in her final Clarkson Cup (image by Brandon Taylor)

Lori Dupuis Becoming GM of Brampton a Positive Sign in Women's Hockey

Mark Staffieri

When the Canadian Women’s Hockey League announced that the new general manager for the Brampton Thunder would be former player Lori Dupuis, it helped to reinforce the message that women will continue to have a pivotal role in hockey.

Having played for the Thunder since the inaugural NWHL season (the preceding league to the CWHL) in 1998-99, Dupuis has been more than just a building block for the league and the franchise. She has been a role model for generations of young female hockey players.

Employing great business acumen (Dupuis has worked as a mortgage broker during the offseason), the Brampton Thunder could not have asked for a better candidate. While Dupuis has some big shoes to fill in replacing outgoing GM Jody Katz (who shall occupy an upper-management role with the CWHL), the most admirable quality Dupuis brings to the job is trust.

As a member of the Thunder for the last 15 years, she has not only paid her dues, she has also earned the respect of her teammates and the individuals who help to operate the league.

Having also volunteered as an assistant coach for Vicky Sunohara (a former captain with the Thunder) during the 2011-12 Toronto Varsity Blues season in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Dupuis is a tireless worker who sincerely cares for the game and its growth.

With the Thunder having lost five players (captain Jayna Hefford, Gillian Apps, Bailey Bram, Vicki Bendus and Courtney Birchard) to Hockey Canada’s centralization camp for 2013-14 (which will determine the final roster for the Sochi 2014 Winter Games), Dupuis enters the job with great challenges.

Compounding the loss is the fact that goaltender Florence Schelling (who played for Switzerland at Vancouver 2010) has left the franchise to sign with a team in her native Switzerland.

While every franchise in the CWHL has the exact same conundrum, it is a challenge that serves a baptism of fire for newly hired Dupuis. As an individual of great character and toughness, she should be able to use the draft effectively to fill the holes in her roster and overcome this obstacle.

Despite the absence of five valuable franchise players, Dupuis still has some remarkable assets on her roster. Laura McIntosh was one of the top scoring rookies in the league, and her skills should make her a dark horse to claim the 2014 Angela James Bowl.

A defense anchored by solid veterans such as Tara French and Mallory Johnston, along with Ivy League-educated Charissa Stadnyk should yield positive results. Complemented by Liz Knox, the first rookie to start in the Clarkson Cup championship game provides Dupuis with a core group to build around.

Regardless of Brampton’s record in Dupuis’ inaugural season as GM, the most important aspect is the fact that she is signifying a growing trend in the budding CWHL; players are beginning to find new life after their playing careers. During the 2011-12 season, former players Rebecca Davies and Sommer West employed management and coaching positions with the Toronto Furies

As the league continues to grow, the impact of its players in leadership roles after their playing careers will only serve as a positive impact. In the developing years of the CWHL, many players were part of the board of directors.

Although current leadership features individuals with strong business attributes, Dupuis’ arrival as GM conveys the message that the players of the league are still an essential component toward positive growth.

Dupuis is part of a growing trend spearheaded by Davies and West last season. She is now the third former player currently serving in a GM capacity in the league.

Meg Hewings, who competed for the Montreal Wingstar in the preceding NWHL, is at the helm of the Montreal Stars. The hiring of Dupuis provides a feeling of excitement in the offseason that promises to only build momentum as the season begins in October.


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