PALM DESERT (CNS) – The Coachella Valley Firebirds announced today the
hiring of Jessica Campbell as an assistant coach, making her the first
woman behind the bench as a full-time coach in American Hockey League history.
A woman has never held such a position in the NHL. The Coachella
Valley Firebirds are the NHL affiliate of the Seattle Kraken and will begin
their inaugural season in the fall as the 32nd AHL team in the league.
The Firebirds hired Dan Bylsma as head coach last month. Campbell is a
coach for the 2022 Rangers Development Camp taking place this summer.
“We’re very excited to welcome Jessica to the Kraken organization as
an assistant coach with the Coachella Valley Firebirds,” Seattle Kraken
general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. “She played the game at a
high level and that experience is evident in the way she coaches. Her knowledge
of the game and ability to communicate and teach will be important assets in
the development of our prospects in the American Hockey League.”
Campbell, from Rocanville, Saskatchewan in Canada, played in two Under-
18 World Junior Championships and was captain of her team in 2010. She
scored the gold medal-winning goal and was selected as tournament MVP.
She also played five games for Canada at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey
Women’s World Championship.
“I am thrilled to join the Kraken organization and work with Dan and
his staff for the inaugural season of Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey,”
Campbell said in a statement. “I would like to thank the players and coaches I
have worked with along the way that have helped me reach this level. I am
excited to bring in a new coaching perspective and to be able to teach our
players the necessary tools and skills to impact players every night while
raising the bar for what we can achieve as a team this season. Having the
opportunity to help build a culture and team from the beginning is something
that doesn’t come around often and I’m really looking forward to getting
started at Development Camp.”
The 30-year-old Campbell played three seasons, from 2014 to 2017, for
the Calgary Inferno in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and won the Clarkson
Cup in 2016. She played in college for Cornell University from 2010-2014 and
was team captain in her senior season.
“Jessica’s skill and talent for developing players who understand all
aspects of the game and what it takes to be successful on and off the ice
is her strength,” Bylsma said in a statement. “She has a passion for
developing all aspects of the game and creating players with impact. We are
focused on building a culture of impact, skill, and tenacity for both the
Coachella Valley Firebirds and the Seattle Kraken and know Jessica’s talent and
vision will help us establish that culture in our inaugural year.”
Campbell’s coaching career includes stints as an assistant coach for
Germany at the 2022 IIHF Men’s World Championship, becoming the first woman to
join the coaching staff of a national team participating in the World
Championship, with Tri-City Storm, USHL development program actively heading
the Windy City Storm Girl’s Hockey program in Chicago, and as an assistant
coach and skills coach for the Nurnberg Ice Tigers in the Deutsche Eishockey
The Firebirds will start the season in Seattle and are set to play
their first AHL game at Acrisure Arena near Palm Desert in December 2022.
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