PWHL Minnesota drafts 7 players amid boos over Natalie Darwitz's departure

<div>Kendall Coyne Schofield #26 of <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Minnesota;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Minnesota</a> raises the Walter Cup after the win over <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Boston;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Boston</a> during Game Five of the PWHL Finals at Tsongas Center on May 29, 2024 in Lowell, Massachusetts. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>

MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - PWHL Minnesota came away from Monday night’s draft at Roy Wilkins Auditorium with seven new players for next year’s roster, but it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns in St. Paul.

The franchise was just a few days removed from Natalie Darwitz’s dismissal as general manager by PWHL officials, which came nine days after Minnesota beat Boston for its first championship. Coach Ken Klee took over draft duties, and some Minnesota fans at the draft held up signs both criticizing Klee and the decision to remove Darwitz.

Officials within the league believe Darwitz and Klee clashed, and Klee stayed with the help of support from some of the team’s key players. Klee was even booed by fans as Minnesota made its selections.

Klee did not specifically comment on Darwitz Monday night, telling the Star Tribune. ""I didn't want anything else to be a distraction. I wouldn't want anything to take away from any of the (drafted) players' experience. It's unfortunate a little bit at the beginning. But it's OK. People are entitled to their opinion," Klee said.

Klee and PWHL Minnesota took Claire Thompson out of Toronto with the No. 3 overall pick. Her first social media message to fans after being picked was in a Minnesota Wild sweater, and not a PWHL one. They took North Dakota native and Wisconsin forward Britta Curl with their second round pick.

Thompson will be putting medical school on hold to play professional hockey.

"It’s amazing, it’s a dream come true. It’s hard to come up with words to describe something you’ve dreamed of your whole life," Thompson said. "It was a really difficult decision. I love medical school, it’s been a long-time dream of mine to become a doctor but my sights have been set on continuing to play professional hockey during this period of my life."

The Hockey News manager Ian Kennedy had an interesting X post during Monday night’s draft after talking with Minnesota PWHL staffers. The team left the night with seven players, not one from Minnesota in a state filled with future pro hockey talent.

That's what happens when you remove your general manager three days before a draft. Darwitz chose seven Minnesota natives in last year’s 15-round draft. Five Minnesotans in total were picked Monday night by other teams.

"They are confused. They are worried. The term ‘embarrassed’ was used. The draft plan they spent the year on has been abandoned. I’ve never seen something like this unfold in professional sport."