“I think it’s huge that European players get drafted today,” an ecstatic Aurard said after her name was called by New York. “Of course, lots of Canadians and Americans will be selected, but I think it’s going to keep going that more Europeans are chosen. They want to make the league more international, so I hope this will be an inspiration for everyone back in Europe.”
To fully appreciate the women’s game, and Aurard’s place in it, it’s important to look at the two Chloes—the international Chloe who skates for Les Bleus, and the league Chloe who played with a diverse group of teammates in university in the U.S.
Internationally, she has had a challenging go of it, playing for France in IIHF tournaments and being the team’s best player by a long shot. She has played at the 2019 and 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championships, but on both occasions the team finished last and was demoted. She has never played at the Olympics. Before and in between the top-level WW, she has played at five Women’s Worlds Division I-A, but without any supporting cast she will have a difficult time getting France back to the top division. And now, the team is in a transition phase, going from older to younger, where she is a leader on a team that will take time to develop.
“It’s definitely different when I play back home for Team France,” she agreed. “I don’t play with a different style, but I play with different players. But it was important that I played in the U.S. five years in Boston and five years before that in Vermont, so I think [scouts] got to see me more at Northeastern than Team France. I think the opportunity to go to college really helped me get drafted.”
So, Aurard put her name in the hat for the PW draft, and let happen what may. “When I declared myself for the league, I just wanted to keep going and play in the best league in the world. I wasn’t worried about what team would take me or at what number I’d be chosen. It’s a draft. I did have in the back of my mind if I don’t make this new league I could go back to Sweden or Switzerland, somewhere back in Europe to keep playing hockey.”
She needn’t have worried. Not only is 21st in pretty rare company, she was the only the third European drafted, after Muller (3rd overall, Boston) and Czech defender Dominika Laskova (19th, Montreal). And although she will not be playing with Muller again for the foreseeable future, Aurard knows they are both making history.
“Obviously, we would have loved to play together. We’ve been playing together for five years on the same line. But I’m happy for her. Boston is great. I’m looking forward to playing against her.”
The whirlwind year calms down now for France’s only representative in the PWHL—but only for a couple of months.
“I’m currently staying in Boston now because I signed with Boston so I have an apartment there,” Aurard explained. “I can use the Northeastern facilities, skate, train, so that’s fortunate. Then we have PWHL camps in November, so I’ll just train hard until then and then move to New York in early November to start the season.”
It will be a season unlike any other. Players from nine countries were selected in the PW draft, and teammates in IIHF play will become opponents in league play. There will be a season, a playoffs, a trophy to play for. And then the teams will break and go to Utica, New York, for the next edition of the Women’s Worlds. And over time, as the PWHL expands and more Europeans move to North America to play, the gap between Canada, the United States, and the rest of the world will shrink. It’s inevitable—and welcome.
“The league has done a lot of work behind the scenes to build it to what it is now over the summer,” Aurard summarized. “But for the future you have to look internationally. You can’t have just Canadians and Americans. There are a lot of good players in Europe.”