Kraken’s Jessica Campbell makes NHL history as preseason coach
Sep 26, 2023, 3:10 PM | Updated: 3:10 pm
(Photo courtesy of NHL.com)
Jessica Campbell, the first woman to become a full-time coach in the American Hockey League, served as a coach for the Seattle Kraken in a preseason game against the Calgary Flames at Climate Pledge Arena on Monday, capping off a week of historic firsts for women in the NHL.
Campbell, 31, became a full-time assistant coach for the Seattle Kraken’s minor-league affiliate, the Coachella Valley Firebirds, in July 2022. The Firebirds went 48-17-5 in its inaugural season, going all the way to the AHL Finals before losing to the Hersey Bears in seven games. In addition to the Firebirds’ success, Campbell has also been coaching on-ice sessions at Kraken training camp.
“It’s obviously a tremendous opportunity, and I’m honored to be where I am,” Campbell said in a prepared statement. “It’s really a humbling feeling to be part of the Kraken organization. I truly mean that.”
Professional Women’s Hockey League coach Kori Cheverie also coached in the NHL over the weekend, working behind the bench for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ preseason game on Sunday. According to ESPN, while women have been behind NHL benches in the past as trainers and in other roles, they have not been part of a team in a coaching capacity until this past weekend.
“She deserves being in the spotlight,” forward Andrew Poturalski said in a team press release. “She brings such a different side of things, and she’s really creative and just (brings) a totally different perspective than what I’ve been used to. She’s helped all of us forwards down there in Coachella, and especially on the power play. So it’s really cool to be a part of that and have her behind the bench.”
Campbell spent four years with Cornell University’s women’s ice hockey team, reaching the NCAA Frozen Four once in 2010. She went on to play professionally for the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and then for the Malmo Redhawks of the Swedish Women’s Hockey League. She also skated for Canada at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship.
Once her playing career ended, she became a coach with the Tri-City Storm of the U.S. Hockey League and to the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga in Germany before landing with Coachella Valley.
“I grew up as a young player dreaming of playing in the NHL because that’s all I knew,” Campbell said. “I never imagined being able to coach at this level. It’s just putting my head down, doing the work, and where it takes me, it takes me.”
The Kraken opened the preseason Monday night with concurrent split-squad games against the Flames, with one game taking place in Calgary and the other in Seattle. The road teams won both contests, with the Kraken victorious 5-3 at the Scotiabank Saddledome and the Flames taking a 3-2 win in a shootout at Climate Pledge Arena.
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