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Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Sasky Stewart from the CWHL

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The CWHL’s loss is definitely the Leafs’ gain.

Sasky Stewart at the 2017 CWHL All-Star Fantasy Draft Chris Tanouye | CWHL

Sasky Stewart, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, announced Tuesday afternoon that she would be leaving her position with the league to join the Toronto Maple Leafs as their Digital Community Manager.

Over her past two seasons with the CWHL, Sasky has become a familiar face to both fans and media around the league. I first met her just before a Puck Talks where she needed a place to sit, something to eat, and a better wireless connection so she could finish up the last-minute presentation to the Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport she was putting together for the league.

For a small league with a relatively limited budget, constant multi-tasking is the norm. Herding press, coordinating credentials, issuing press releases, writing presentations, answering general league questions on the record, filling in helpful details for random bloggers (hi), coordinating the league’s Twitter strategy - those all more or less fall under the expected realm of “Marketing and Communications”.

Some of Sasky’s slightly less usual tasks involved stepping a little further into the limelight - serving as occasional colour commentator for game broadcasts on youtube, appearing as a Puck Talks panelist and on the occasional podcast to talk about women in sport in general and (usually) the CWHL in particular.

The above are only the things I can prove definitively that Sasky has done over the past two years - as Baseball Annie put it “I sort of assume she just does everything.” The CWHL has other staff, both paid and unpaid, but online at least Sasky has become the more accessible face of the league.

The players are the stars; Commissioner Brenda Andress holds the press conferences, makes the speeches and the public appearances; but if you had a quick question about league goings-on via e-mail or Twitter, it seemed like it was usually Sasky with the answer. She brought both a passion and an irreverence to the job that was always great to see.

At the latest edition of Puck Talks this past Wednesday, she joined a panel on women’s hockey, largely focused on the CWHL. She talked facts and figures, the league’s strategies and challenges, but she also made sure she had the opportunity to say this about Marie-Philip Poulin:

“Marie-Philip Poulin is 25. She is the captain of Les Canadiennes de Montréal. She has two Clarkson Cups; one she won at 16 and one she won this week and she scored the game-winning goal for the Clarkson Cup. She has been in the league for three years, one of them at 16, two in the last two years. She’s been the MVP twice, she’s been the player-voted MVP twice, she’s won the scoring title twice. She has also won two Olympic gold medals, both before the age of (I think) 22 and she scored the game-winning goal in both of those Olympics. So every time someone says to me that Marie-Philip Poulin is the Sidney Crosby [of women’s hockey] I’m like... Marie-Philip Poulin is the most dominant hockey player of our generation, regardless of gender.”

Will she bring the same passion and knowledge to her job with the Leafs? I’d say it’s likely:

While her role with the Leafs means we won’t share any more random e-mail strings about changes to the CWHL schedule, Sasky won’t be easy to forget. The position of Digital Community Manager entails many things but boils down to this: no matter what the Toronto Maple Leafs are doing online, Sasky Stewart will have been involved with it on some level.

And if Toronto Furies references pop up a little more often, well that’s just Sasky making sure the Leafs beat out the Habs and Flames at the CWHL partnership game the way they should be beating them at everything else.