George Speirs, COO and acting-GM of the Connecticut Whale, is out of both roles and no longer in business with the league, as Kate Cimini of Today's Slapshot reported earlier.
A source close to the situation tells Puck Daddy the move to sever the relationship with Speirs was one that became painfully apparent after Speirs took over as general manager for the Whale in December.
"[Speirs was] one of the single biggest causes of problems for league," said the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Speirs started out as a volunteer photographer and "donor" to the NWHL. From a profile by Cimini in May 2015:
"George Speirs is a businessman. A former marine, he now owns a photography studio, as well as invests and manages properties.
... he decided to become one of the NWHL’s investors, or, in his eyes, donors. As Speirs puts it: 'An investor is someone who is looking to make money. I’m not looking for anything back.'"
"Spiers initially met with Rylan to learn about the different ways he could invest in the league, and was given a list that included full or partial team ownership. However he has donated to the NWHL’s operations rather than in a specific team at this time, citing that the bigger picture seemed more important to him."
Did Speirs' donations to the NWHL lead him to taking the position of Director of Operations and later Chief Operating Officer within the league itself? What about taking over as the third GM of the Connecticut Whale following the resignation of Harry Rosenholtz in December? No one would confirm it to us on the record.
According to the source, Speirs became "a snake in the grass. ... Spreading internal and external rumors in an attempt to discredit his bosses and establish himself as next the next [League] commissioner."
One can only speculate on the fallout this will have on the League itself, both financially and in the court of public opinion. We don't know if Speirs was asked to resign or if he was outright fired. We also don't know the status of the money Speirs has given to the NWHL, and whether or not it was given back as part of the separation.
The NWHL was contacted for comment on Speirs departure and at the time of publication did not have a statement. An effort to contact Speirs through the League was declined.
As for Connecticut, they are looking for their fourth general manager this year. The team has a one-point lead for first place over the Boston Pride. With three games remaining for the Whale, two of which are against Boston, they'll lean heavily on stars like Kelli Stack and Jaimie Leonoff to keep them stable on the ice.
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