Seattle Kraken hire first full-time female bench coach in NHL history


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The Seattle Kraken made history this week when they hired Jessica Campbell.

Campbell became the first woman to be hired in NHL history as a full-time assistant coach who will be stationed behind a team’s bench. 

Campbell has spent the past two seasons working as an assistant coach for Seattle’s AHL affiliate in Coachella Valley alongside head coach Dan Bylsma, who was hired in late May to take over the head job with the Kraken. 

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Jessica Campbell will become the first woman to work on the bench of an NHL franchise after the Seattle Kraken hired her as an assistant coach Wednesday, July 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

“Jessica and I spent the last two years coaching in Coachella Valley,” said Bylsma. “I’m confident of what she can do for our staff and bring to the players. I watched her build strong relationships with prospects. … She has the ability to relate to players about their games and what they bring to a team. She’s demonstrated that over the last two seasons. … That’s why she is such an appealing candidate and why she’s joining our staff.

“Her ability to establish relationships with her players … was an important factor in this hire. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with her at the NHL level.”

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German assistant coach Jessica Campbell stands behind players on the bench during a Group A Hockey World Championship match between France and Germany in Helsinki, Finland, May 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

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Campbell played college hockey at Cornell and then played in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for three seasons. She won a gold medal in the Women’s U18 World Championships in 2010, scoring seven goals and handing out eight assists in five games.

She retired from playing in 2017 before founding the player development brand JC Powerskating.

The 32-year-old native of Rocanville, Saskatchewan, was the first full-time female assistant coach in the AHL when she was hired by Coachella Valley before the start of its first season. She also had a one-game stint as an assistant on the Kraken bench for a preseason game against Calgary in September.

Emily Engel-Natzke was hired by the Washington Capitals in 2022 as a video coach, making her the first woman with a full-time assistant role in the league.

The Kraken open their season Oct. 8 against the St. Louis Blues.

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Jessica Campbell, left, assistant coach for the Coachella Valley Firebirds, works alongside Seattle Kraken coaches behind the bench during the second period of an NHL preseason game against the Calgary Flames Sept. 25, 2023, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond, File)

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Seattle missed the playoffs last season after finishing in sixth place in the Pacific Division. The Kraken qualified for the playoffs during the 2022-23 season, their second as an organization.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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