Goaltender Sami Jo Small named general manager of CWHL's Toronto Furies | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Goaltender Sami Jo Small named general manager of CWHL's Toronto Furies

Team Canada's goaltender Sami Jo Small juggles a puck off her stick during team practice at the World Women's Ice Hockey Championship in Halifax, Nova Scotia on Monday, April 5, 2004. Sami Jo Small wants the Toronto Furies to be front and centre as a women’s professional sports team. The former goaltender on Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team is the new general manager of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
June 11, 2018 - 3:06 PM

Sami Jo Small will be managing the Toronto Furies next season instead of playing goal for them.

Small was announced Monday as the Furies' new general manager. The 42-year-old goaltender from Winnipeg has not only played in the Canadian Women's Hockey League since its inception over a decade ago, but was integral in the league's formation as its vice-chair back in 2007.

Small won an Olympic gold medal in 2002 as well as five world championships playing for Canada between 1999 and 2007. She and the Furies won the Clarkson Cup in 2014.

She says it would be a conflict of interest to play for the Furies and manage them at the same time, as she is now in charge of coaching decisions.

"I'm not going to be Reggie Dunlop," Small joked in reference to Paul Newman's player-coach character in "Slapshot".

"I wouldn't be upset if, for instance, one of my goalies was hurt and couldn't make it to practice. I would for sure step in, but by no means would I be stepping into games."

But Small is not hanging up her goalie equipment.

"I'll be 72 and I'll still be playing," she said.

The seven-team CWHL operates like the MLS in that the teams are owned by the league, so Small was hired by the league and replaced Nicole Latreille.

Small will decide if her coaches' contracts will be renewed at the end of June, including head coach Jeff Flanagan's.

The Furies finished outside the playoffs this past season with a 9-19 record, including a shootout and overtime loss.

CWHL coaches and general managers are paid a stipend. Players were paid between $2,000 and $10,000 for the first time this past season, so Small has a salary cap to manage.

She's no stranger to the work of running an operation. She also chaired the CWHL's sponsorship committee in the league's early days drumming up corporate money.

Small sees fundraising as a major part of her new post with the Furies.

"My vision is to build the organization to be amongst the best women's professional sport organizations in the world," Small said.

"That doesn't just include hockey, that includes other professional sports organizations that I want to look to for guidance and to expect our organization to get on par with them.

"My focus isn't wins and losses. It's building the right culture moving forward that it becomes an elite franchise that is successful for many years to come."

She's not the first former player to get involved in a team's front office. Lori Dupuis was GM of the Brampton, now Markham, Thunder for four seasons after retiring as a player.

Small is married to Paralympic hockey player Billy Bridges. The couple have a two-year-old daughter Kensi.

Small hopes she can provide women with an environment that keeps them in hockey longer.

"A lot of women within hockey tend to quit before I think they should," Small explained. "They're pushed out of the game because of family commitments or work commitments."

Among her plans is inviting female firefighters, police and paramedics to the rink because "we're not the first ones to trudge new ground in our workplace environment."

She also has plans for Furies sniper Natalie Spooner.

"I want to make her a superstar in Toronto," Small said. "She not only deserves that, but she is that."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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