The Historic Hiring of Jessica Campbell as an NHL Assistant Coach

The Seattle Kraken recently made headlines by hiring Jessica Campbell as an assistant coach, making her the first woman in NHL history to hold such a position. This is not the first time Campbell has broken barriers in the hockey world. Previously, in 2022, she made history as the first woman behind the bench in the AHL when she was hired as an assistant coach for the Coachella Valley Firebirds, the Kraken’s AHL affiliate team. Campbell’s coaching tenure with the Firebirds was marked by her work with the team’s forwards and power-play unit, leading them to the Calder Cup Final, where they narrowly lost to the Hershey Bears.

The hiring of Jessica Campbell is part of a larger coaching staff overhaul for the Seattle Kraken. In May, Dan Bylsma was brought in as the new head coach, replacing Dave Hakstol. Bylsma, a seasoned coach with experience at the NHL level, indicated early on that Campbell’s name was being considered for a coaching role within the NHL team. In addition to Campbell, the Kraken also added former Minnesota Wild assistant coach Bob Woods to the coaching staff. Woods, known for his expertise in overseeing defense and penalty kill units, joined the Kraken after a successful tenure with the Wild.

The hiring of Bylsma, Campbell, and Woods comes amidst an active offseason for the Seattle Kraken. The team narrowly missed advancing to the Western Conference Finals in the previous season, only to fall short of the playoffs in the following season. The Kraken struggled with their offensive performance, leading to the firing of head coach Hakstol and assistant coach Paul McFarland. In response to their needs, the Kraken made significant signings, including former Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour and former Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson. These acquisitions aim to address the team’s offensive struggles and improve their overall performance on the ice.

Jessica Campbell’s coaching abilities have been evident throughout her career. Her time with the Coachella Valley Firebirds in the AHL showcased her talent for player development and strategic coaching. Under her guidance, the Firebirds saw significant improvements in their offensive performance, leading the league in goals scored in her second season. Campbell’s commitment to player development and skill enhancement has been praised by those who have worked with her. Her background as a former collegiate and professional player, coupled with her coaching experience in various hockey leagues, positions her as a valuable asset to the Seattle Kraken coaching staff.

Campbell’s coaching style emphasizes skill development and individual player growth. Her experience as a skating coach and skills coach highlights her expertise in honing players’ abilities on the ice. As the first woman to be part of a men’s national team coaching staff at the IIHF Men’s World Championship, Campbell has proven her ability to excel in high-pressure coaching environments. Her proactive approach to working with players, both on and off the ice, sets her apart as a coach dedicated to fostering a positive and supportive team culture.

Jessica Campbell’s historic hiring as the first woman assistant coach in NHL history marks a significant milestone for gender diversity in professional hockey. Her track record of success, commitment to player development, and diverse coaching approach make her a valuable addition to the Seattle Kraken coaching staff. As the NHL continues to evolve and embrace new voices and perspectives, Campbell’s appointment serves as a testament to the growing inclusivity and progress within the sport.

NHL

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