York native Cronin named GM of new NWHL team in Toronto

Mandy Cronin, who began playing hockey with the York Youth Hockey League when she was 4 years old, has lived in the Toronto area for the better part of the past two decades — always involved in the game of hockey.

While overseeing her M-Power Hockey youth hockey club in the Toronto area, Cronin also served as general manager of the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) for the 2019-20 season.

Cronin made the four-hour round-trip commute each day from her home in Toronto across the border and into Buffalo.

She loved her time with the Buffalo organization, but when the NWHL awarded the city of Toronto an expansion franchise back in April, Cronin was intrigued about the possibility of joining the club.

Cronin interviewed with team president Digit Murphy, and was announced as the team’s general manager on May 11.

“I had an amazing experience in Buffalo, so this was not an easy decision,” said Cronin from her Toronto home on Wednesday morning. “I absolutely loved everything about being in Buffalo, the community, my staff, the players, and the fans. I have nothing but amazing things to say about everything and everyone I dealt with in Buffalo.”

However, the ability to be part of a brand new organization in Toronto was too much for Cronin to pass up.

“It was a conversation I wanted to at least explore,” Cronin said. “I was very open with everyone in our Buffalo organization and the league that this was something I wanted to, at least, be able to consider. I am very excited for the opportunity. My hometown is still York, Maine, but my family lives in Toronto. It’s a place where I have spent almost the last two decades of my life, and I am excited to help build another NWHL franchise in Toronto.”

Toronto is now the sixth franchise in the NHWL, joining Buffalo, Boston, Minnesota, Metropolitan and Connecticut. The Toronto franchise is privately owned, while the league owns the Beauts.

“I was the person making all the decisions in Buffalo,” Cronin said. “I have a president and ownership group above me here, so those bigger decisions will have to be run through them; that’s a bit different. I am excited to be working with a very experienced group. I work closely with our team president and ownership group on pretty much everything we do on a higher level. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Toronto, following an online fan poll, unveiled its logo and nickname of Six on Wednesday.

“I love it,” said Cronin, who played her college hockey at the University of Maine. “Six is definitely trending (here in Toronto). It’s a Drake term and it’s great for the younger fans.There are a lot of other references of Six with this team. It’s the sixth season of the league, we’re the sixth team in the league, there are six players on the ice. I think it’s a great name, something the people of Toronto can really get behind.

Other potential franchise names included the Polar Bears, Tigers, Towers, Lady Leafs, St. Pats, Kraken, Lakers, Toronto HC, Frost, Monarchs, Pioneers and Furies.

“There was a huge fan reaction to the announcement of our team name and logo,” Cronin said. “There was a lot of excitement.”

Cronin, her staff and the players on the team are ready to make their mark in Toronto.

“We’re working hard on our brand, and getting our players’ faces out in the community, and our name known in Toronto,” Cronin said. “We’re really trying to connect with the community here. I think we’re doing a great job with that.”

The upcoming season is scheduled to start in October, but may be pushed back due to COVID-19.

“We’ll just have to see how things play out,” Cronin said. “We’re dependent on when regulations change and all of that (in terms of when we can start to practice). There are private arenas around here, and smaller training facilities are allowed to get on the ice now; at least athletes can get on the ice right now, just not in big groups.”

In the meantime, Cronin and her wife are expecting their second child in the next month, and they hope to visit family in York as soon as they can. Cronin said she has a few must-stop places every time she returns home.

“We always have to hit up the Bagel Basket, and get over to Anthony’s and see the guys over there for our steak and cheese sub,” Cronin laughed. “We also have to get to The Goldenrod and get ice cream down by the Nubble. York will always be my home.”

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