Hockey News

The firebirds gave Campbell many opportunities to learn |

Patrick Features Writer

Two years ago, Jessica Campbell made history when she became the first woman to serve as a full-time assistant coach in the American Hockey League.

Now after two incredibly successful seasons with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, Campbell will break through the same barrier in the National Hockey League.

Next stop, Seattle.

Campbell, 32, was introduced last week as one of the new additions to the Kraken coaching staff where he will rejoin. Dan Bylsmathe former head coach of the Firebirds who was promoted to Seattle himself on May 28.

Bylsma quickly became a fan of Campbell as they worked together in the Coachella Valley. As they formed the foundation of a growing NHL team playing in the new AHL market, they got to know each other a lot and Bylsma leaned heavily on Campbell and the assistant coach. Stu Bickel to help guide the Firebirds through early growing pains — including two full months on the road to start their first season.

“What drew me to Jess [is she is] he’s young, he’s energetic,” Bylsma told in 2023. “I wanted coaches who pushed me. I try to help them but they help me on my journey.”

By the time Campbell arrived at the Firebirds, she had amassed a resume that included four seasons as a forward (including one as team captain) at Cornell University, three years in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, international experience with Hockey Canada, and coaching. Sweden and Germany. He had also built a reputation as a top-class bowling and skills coach.

It all allowed him to click quickly in the Coachella Valley.

“He has respect for the players because he has the knowledge and ability to give them,” said Bylsma. “And that was actually seen before he opened his mouth.”

When Campbell met with the Seattle media after the Kraken announced his hire, he acknowledged the importance of history, but preferred to focus on the future.

“I’m humbled, obviously, to be in this position,” Campbell said of becoming the NHL’s first full-time female head coach. “But I’m not focused on anything. It’s always on the job. It affects him. It is at work.”

Campbell’s time in the AHL provided him with many learning opportunities. The Firebirds were introduced to a market that was very new to the sport. Building the organization’s roster from the ground up, the Kraken provided the Coachella Valley with a growing group of prospects and a core of veterans with strong personalities. They went 94-32-11-7 in two regular seasons, finishing second in the AHL with 103 points both years. They made two long runs to the Calder Cup Finals, winning back-to-back Western Conference championships.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Campbell said. “It was a success. There were difficulties. Dan has been a great mentor to me. Dan saw potential in me and brought me into his club. He gave me a voice and gave me the strength to be nothing but myself.”

After reaching the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2023, the Kraken missed the postseason cut this spring. Campbell, who has helped Firebirds players open up new areas of their game, will be asked to do so in Seattle now as part of Bylsma’s staff that includes fellow assistants. Dave Lowry again Bob Woods.

“I’m excited to see how the team can become a better version of the Seattle Kraken. Most of the success we expect from this organization.”

Campbell admits there will be some exposure for him, but sees it as an opportunity rather than something to fear. Women have found the role of managing, evaluating, developing, managing, and other areas in the game. Coaching is another frontier.

“If my impact is positive,” Campbell said, “it might open doors and open eyes for others to think differently.

“Even though I’m honored to be the first, I don’t want to be alone.” feature writer Patrick Williams has covered the American Hockey League for nearly two decades for outlets including, Sportsnet, TSN, Hockey News, SiriusXM NHL Network Radio and SLAM ! Sports, and most recently was the host of The Hockey News On The ‘A’ podcast. He was the recipient of the AHL’s James H. Ellery Memorial Award for the league’s top scorer in 2016.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button