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Campbell becomes 1st woman to coach in NHL, vows to not be last

When the Seattle Kraken disclosed that Dan Bylsma was to be selected as the team’s new head coach on May 28, a low continous sound went through a segment of NHL observers. Not because of Bylsma, exactly, though the 53-year-old is a well-respected coach who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

It was because of the ripple effect that the hiring of kraken may create.

It was because of Jessica Campbell.

Campbell had spent the pass  two seasons working as assistant coach on Bylsma’s staff with Coachella Valley of the American Hockey League.

She was a rising name in coaching circles, the woman frequently mentioned as the one who might break through, who might do for the NHL what Becky Hammon did for the NBA, what Jen Welter did for the NFL.

On Wednesday, it happened. Campbell was named an assistant coach with the Kraken, along with Bob Woods, making her the first full-time female assistant coach in NHL history to work behind the

Jessica’s hiring is a important  step forward for the sport as it shows there is a place for women who aspire to coach in the NHL,” NHL Coach Association director Lindsay Pennal wrote in an email to “This job is something Jess has wanted for many years. She’s put in the hard work it takes to earn this opportunity.

“Teams are always looking for a competitive edge. Players want people to help them maximize their potential. To not draw on the perspectives and talent of half the population has been a huge miss. It’s safe to assume there will be a trickle-down effect to the developmental leagues across North America with more opportunities for women opening up. That is how lasting change happens.”

It also made sense because of who the Kraken are.

When Ron Francis was going through the interview process with the ownership of the Kraken, the eventual general manager was told that business-as-usual shouldn’t be the approach, that Seattle was going to be a different sort of organization, one that had an approach as new as its status in the NHL.


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