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Jessica Campbell becomes first Woman Coach in NHL History for Seattle Kraken

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A firework was dropped in the sports world yesterday when the Seattle Kraken announced Jessica Campbell will be a coaching assistant next season to become the first woman coach in NHL history (also the first woman coach in AHL History). 

Campbell is no stranger to hockey, as the former Cornell University ice hockey captain of the women’s hockey team during her time in college & Canadian national team member knows a thing about playing the game.

Campbell got her first taste of coaching in the AHL (American Hockey League) where she coached as an assistant for the Coachella Valley Firebirds (an affiliate of the Seattle Krakken) under head coach Dan Bylsma

Bylsma would eventually be appointed coach of the Kraken on May 28 after leading the Firebirds to back-to-back appearances in the Calder Cup, the AHL’s championship series.

In Campbell’s first season as an assistant, she helped aid in the success of the Firebirds to a 48-17 regular season record, good for second best in the league. They made it to game seven of the Calder Cup, making Campbell the first woman to make it to the championship game where they fell to the Hershey Bears.

Campbell’s excellence while propelling her teams to new heights carried over to the next season with a 46-15 record in the Pacific Division to make it to the Calder Cup again against the Hershey Bears, unfortunately falling short again.

Campbell is a trailblazer and groundbreaker for many women to follow in her footsteps in hockey as someone who exemplifies dedication, perseverance, and overcoming adversity.

Many didn’t think her advice could translate from the women’s to men’s game but she never worried about the naysayers:

"My knowledge as a student of the game blended with my playing and coaching experience got me to understand, I feel confident, I feel prepared. I knew I'd done the work the past two years with the guys. There were no nerves [behind the benches in Germany] or fear. I felt capable and ready to step into it.”

Campbell played boys' hockey up until the age of 17 which made her tougher before her collegiate career for Cornell where she scored 100 career points across her four seasons.

 "I always had a belief as a young girl, playing boys' hockey until I was 17, that I was equal and capable too. I've never focused on my gender," Campbell told ESPN.

Capable is exactly what she has shown throughout her tremendous career en route to making history. She now looks to join the Krakken staff alongside Bylsma, other assistants in Bob Woods, and returning staff members Dave Lowry and Steve Briere.

The Kraken went 34-35-13 last season and finished 17 points removed from a Stanley Cup Playoff position.

With Campbell’s proven record of bringing a winning mentality and installing a winning culture, the Kraken should look to be playoff contenders again.


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