Two-time Olympic hockey gold medal coach Melody Davidson has joined the Premier Hockey Federation as director of league and hockey operations.
Davidson coached Canada to Olympic women’s hockey titles in 2006 and 2010 and was director of the squad that won gold in 2014.
She also coached Canada to five women’s world hockey titles.
The 58-year-old from Oyen, Alta., joins new PHF commissioner Reagan Carey. The two women were previously international rivals.
Carey was director of U.S. women’s hockey teams from 2010 to 2018, while Davidson held a similar role for Canada until 2018.
“There is not a single person who has done more for the global growth of women’s hockey than Mel Davidson, and it is a true privilege to welcome her to a new leadership role at the PHF,” Carey said Wednesday in a statement.
“She has become legendary for her ability to create winning programs at the Olympic and national team level, but her dedication to mentoring and coaching others is simply remarkable and unrivalled.
“Mel reflects the integrity, experience, and success we value in the PHF and her influence will surely raise the bar for our league in all facets.”
The Toronto Six is the lone Canadian club in the six-team women’s league.
Carey has yet to confirm the PHF will expand to Montreal and another market next season.
Players on the Canadian and U.S. Olympic teams do not play in the PHF.
They’re affiliated with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association (PWHPA) that is working toward a professional league that pays them a living wage with the competitive and medical supports male pros get.
The NHL recently asked the two sides to meet, but talks reportedly did not progress.
Davidson will work with another Canadian, PHF senior vice-president of hockey operations Lisa Haley.
Haley was Canada’s assistant coach in 2014 when Davidson managed the team.
“Mel has been a mentor of mine from the very beginning of my professional career and I was fortunate to work with her throughout each of my experiences with the Canadian national women’s team and at various IIHF high-performance camps,” said Haley.
“I am so pleased to get another opportunity to work with her at the PHF.
“Mel will play an integral role as the PHF continues its vision of growing and sustaining professional women’s hockey across North America.”
Davidson was an honorary coach at the PHF’s all-star game in Buffalo in January.
She will also continue as high-performance adviser for summer sport with Own The Podium, which is a role she’d held for two years.
“This is an exciting time for women’s hockey with more growth potential and opportunities for athletes than ever before,” Davidson said.
“I believe the PHF has built a solid foundation and I’m really looking forward to working with Reagan and Lisa to help advance the game forward for elite athletes who want and deserve to continue developing and competing at the highest professional level.”
Roster construction for the PHF’s eighth season in 2022-23 is underway. The salary cap will be US$750,000 per team with a floor of $562,500.
The PHF’s board of governors announced in January the intent to invest over $25 million in direct player enhancements over the next three years to provide “competitive compensation and benefits that will continue to distinguish the PHF as a leader among professional sports leagues.”