Jessica Campbell becomes NHL's first full-time female assistant coach with promotion by the Kraken

Jessica Campbell was promoted to Seattle Kraken assistant coach Wednesday, making her the first woman to hold that job full-time with an NHL team.

Campbell spent the past two seasons as an assistant under Dan Bylsma with the Coachella Valley Firebirds, Seattle’s AHL affiliate, and helped them reach the Calder Cup Final in back-to-back years.

She held a number of different responsibilities with the Firebirds — overseeing the forwards and power play, while also doing skills work on the side.

A former high-level national team player in Canada with a background as a world-class skating coach, Campbell has been credited with helping the development of a number of the organization’s young prospects. The most notable among them is forward Tye Kartye, an undrafted free agent who was named the AHL’s rookie of the year while with the Firebirds in 2023 and graduated to a role with the Kraken this past season.

Campbell joins Emily Engel-Natzke — a video coach for the Washington Capitals — as the only women employed as traveling full-time members of NHL coaching staffs. Other women have been employed in temporary or part-time work by NHL teams or as guest coaches and trainers, but Campbell will be the first on the bench full-time.

Campbell previously became the first woman to be a full-time assistant coach in the AHL when she was hired by Coachella Valley in July 2022, and she was the first woman to coach at the men’s IIHF World Hockey Championship when she was on the German bench as an assistant for the 2022 tournament in Finland.

She also worked as an assistant coach and skills coach for the Nurnberg Ice Tigers in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Campbell was the first assistant hired by Bylsma when he took over the Firebirds and made an immediate impression on those at the top levels of the organization because of her unique skillset.

“The job she’s done is the reason why we hired her,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis told reporters in May. “We didn’t hire her because she was female. We hired her because she was a good coach. She has an interesting background, not only skating but skill development, and that’s a big part of what they’ve been able to do at Coachella Valley.”

The Kraken hired Bylsma to replace Dave Hakstol as head coach on May 28.

Campbell joins Bob Woods and Dave Lowry as assistants on his staff in Seattle.

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(Photo: Martin Meissner / Associated Press)

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