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In Hainsight: Ottawa Strikes First

September 5, 2023, 7:33 PM ET [6 Comments]
Karine Hains
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Follow me @KarineHains for all updates about the Montreal Canadiens and women's hockey

Even though free agency opened on September 1st in the PWHL there had been no signature announced until this afternoon when Ottawa’s team became the first one to announce the signing of the three players they’ll build their franchise around. The nation’s capital opted for a trio of Canadian Olympians including a strong goaltender and two forwards.

Heading Ottawa’s attack will be the best scorer of the last Olympic games, Brianne Jenner. The 32-year-old has won three Olympic medals (two gold and one silver) and nine World Championships medals (three gold, five silver and one bronze). At the last Olympic games, she set a record for the most goals scored in an Olympic tournament with nine. Toronto fans were hoping that she’d be signing there since her partner works in a law firm there and they’ve got a little one, but it just wasn’t to be.

Joining Jenner up front will be 27-year-old Emily Clark who’s got two Olympic medals to her name (one gold and one silver) and seven World Championships medals (two gold, four silver and one bronze). Clark played in the NCAA from 2014 to 2019 -with a one year break in 2018- and lead the Wisconsin Badgers to the Frozen Four in all four seasons, winning the championship as a senior. She also played in the PWHPA from 2019 to 2021 and she was the runner-up in scoring last season with 23 points in 20 games.

Ottawa didn’t neglect its defense though, although adding solid goaltending to the mix with Emerance Maschmeyer. The 28-year-old netminder has acted as Team Canada’s back-up behind Ann-Renée Desbiens of late and has won an Olympic gold medal and seven World Championships medals (two gold, four silver and one bronze) in her collection. She played her NCAA hockey with the Harvard Crimson from 2012 to 2016 before playing in the defunct CWHL with the Calgary Inferno and the Canadiennes de Montreal. She spent the last season in the PWHPA playing with Team Scotiabank, with a 2.83 GAA and a .922 save percentage. This summer, Maschmeyer got married to former Team Canada goaltender Geneviève Lacasse and it will be interesting to see if Ottawa will draft her on September 18th to act as their back-up.

All three players signed three-year deals, but their salary has not been revealed, which appears to be a mistake to me. These days, fans do enjoy discussing players’ salary and comparing players on this basis, seems like a lost opportunity to get people talking about the new league. It’s however easy to understand that all three will be earning $80,000 or more, since a minimum of six players per team must be earning at least that amount.

Judging by how things have gone so far, don’t expect any other signing announcement today. I’d bet good money that the next announcement will come tomorrow not to steal Ottawa’s thunder. With five days left to the free agency window, I’ll venture a guess that each team will get its announcement day and that the Montreal franchise will be the last one to reveal its three players on September 10th.
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