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Dorset native Danielle Marmer becomes the first female on-ice coach for the NHL

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NHL Bruins/Courtesy
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Dorset native Danielle Marmer was hired as a player development and scouting assistant for the Boston Bruins, becoming the first female on-ice coach for the NHL franchise

A Vermonter recently made history when she was named the new player development and scouting assistant for the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins.

Danielle Marmer grew up in Dorset, Vermont, and is no stranger to the world of hockey as both a player and a professional who works to develop new talent. She spent three years as director of player development and hockey operations for Quinnipiac's women's ice hockey team, and played for the Bobcats as well, taking the ice for 132 career games between 2013 and 2017.

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Rob Rasmussen/Courtesy
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Vermonter Danielle Marmer spent three years as Director of Player Development and Hockey Operations for Quinnipiac's women's ice hockey team, and played for the Bobcats as well, taking the ice for 132 career games between 2013 and 2017.

Now, she's become the first woman ever hired by the Bruins for an on-ice position.

Vermont Public's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Marmer to find out how this opportunity came about and what her duties will entail with the Boston Bruins moving forward. Their conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb: How did you first get involved with the Bruins in order to be named to this position?

Danielle Marmer: My introduction with the Bruins with their scouting department was through their Diversity and Inclusion Scouting Mentorship Program, which was a mentorship program for people in an underserved community in the hockey world to connect with a mentor who works for the Boston Bruins.

And so my mentor was Ryan Nadeau, who is the associate director of amateur scouting. So, I was partnered with him, and we spent September to May, Tuesday mornings, evaluating players, going through video, creating eval. reports, and just talking hockey. And so that was sort of my introduction and how I got connected with the Bruins.

How do you feel about being the first woman to have an on-ice role with the Bruins organization? On the one hand, I imagine you'd rather just concentrate on the job at hand. But do you think that being the first woman to take such a position with the Bruins can have a positive ripple effect?

Yeah, it's an incredible honor to be a part of the Bruins organization. And, you know, I've said this since I've gotten this job that it's an honor, regardless of gender. But, you know, I do recognize that there's an impact, and it opens doors for young girls in hockey and women in hockey. And so I'm obviously very excited to take that role. Luckily, for me, there are a handful of women in leadership roles in the NHL, who I get to look up to, and I get to follow so I just get to be another one of those people, and another one of those women.

I think there's something special about seeing you, you know, physically on the ice, skating with the players, with the helmet on, you know, just maybe just something about that physical presence on the ice can make a difference. What do you think about that?

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Danielle Marmer/Courtesy
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Vermonter Danielle Marmer recently made history when she was named the new player development and scouting assistant for the NHL's Boston Bruins.

Yeah, just the representation and having those pictures, videos for young girls to see that and to actually understand that I was out there with those guys, developing them and working with them.

And I understand that you'll be working with former Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in this role. Have you spoken with him yet about this, about how you will approach scouting and player development and how you will work together?

Yeah, so we spent some time together at the draft and at development camp. So we've spent a little bit of time together but we will be reconnecting the beginning of September to go through roles and responsibilities a little bit more in detail for the upcoming season.

Scouting is such an important part of sports that often takes place out of the sight of fans, even the media to some extent. What do you look for, Danielle, when recommending a player to an organization? Do you follow your gut instinct? Or do you look for particular attributes you think will help maybe find a diamond in the rough?

It's a little bit of both. The most important thing is you're trying to identify players who would work well within your organization. So, a player the Bruins are looking for or interested in is going to be a different type of player, a different style player than you know Anaheim or Florida or any other organization. So it's important to be familiar with the type of player and the style of player that you're looking for.

It's a little bit of instinct like you're talking about. There are qualities in hockey players that I value, you know, at a certain level, that I might not value other attributes quite as high. So skating, hockey IQ, work ethic — those are a couple things that are really important for me. And then there are the other skills are sort of what complement them as a hockey player. I try to let those strengths come out to me so if they check the box on the skating, on the hockey IQ, then you know I sort of leave it up to that player to to show me what they're capable of and what sort of role and what sort of style they can play.

This part of it is so fascinating to me. As a longtime Bruins fan I love how you say can look for certain attributes, but does this player fit in with the Bruins way of playing hockey? And for so many years, that way has been sort of a hard-nosed lunch pail kind of attitude. You know, fans in Boston love the rough and tumble players, but the game has changed so much, especially in recent years. Speed is emphasized so much more now. And I wonder if that's something that you're looking for. How do you define what the Bruins are about these days? What kind of a player are they actually looking for?

I think you nailed it with that description. You know, that's something that we talk about being key to being a Bruins player, and those values, and like you said, speed is obviously something that is so important in hockey, but it's not just you know, how fast can you skate? It's how fast can you make decisions? How fast can you play the game? How fast do you think?

How did growing up in Vermont influence your love of hockey? I imagined it had a lot to do with it.

Yeah, my mom ran the Riley Rink growing up. So, I lived at the rink. I used to get up in the morning and bike down to the rink and then spend the entire day there. But I loved that. I don't know if I grew up anywhere else if I would have had that opportunity. You know, would my mom have run the rink? Would I have been allowed to just, you know, bike through the streets of any other town on my own at a young age if I hadn't grown up in Vermont, so that that definitely had a big impact on it for sure.

The Bruins used to do some preseason team bonding with a group trip to Vermont. I'm wondering if you might suggest to the front office a return to those visits.

I would love that. I have heard that, but yeah, I would absolutely be be down for something like that.

We are all waiting with bated breath. What are you most looking forward to in this new role as you as you take the ice this year?

I'm excited for for my relationship with the players that I'll be working with and for that development process to really start. I'm just really excited to start working with the players and hopefully getting them to be in a place where they're ready to play on Boston's roster and play in Boston.

Have questions, comments, or concerns? Send us a message or tweet your thoughts to @mwertlieb.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Karen is Vermont Public's Managing Producer of Morning News. She manages the morning news content on broadcast and digital platforms, and works with Morning Edition host Mitch Wertlieb to bring listeners the latest news and information, along with relevant interviews. Karen has a long history with public radio, beginning in the early 2000's with the launch of the weekly classical music program, Sunday Bach. Karen's undergraduate degree is in Broadcast Journalism, and she has worked for public radio in Vermont and St. Louis, MO, in areas of production, programming, traffic, operations and news. She produces the Vermont Public Choral Hour, with host Linda Radtke. Karen recently worked with co-producer Betty Smith on a national collaboration with StoryCorps One Small Step, connecting Vermonters one conversation at a time.
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