Jessica Campbell became the first woman appointed as a full-time assistant coach in NHL history on Tuesday when she was hired by Coachella Valley, a subsidiary of Seattle Kraken.
The former Cornell University captain will join the development camp in Seattle July 11-14 to work with potential clients who have been drafted or signed as free agents in the past two seasons. She was originally hired by the New York Rangers on June 14 to join the development camp as a coach.
Campbell, 30, will work under Dan Bilsma, the 2009 Stanley Cup-winning coach for the Pittsburgh Penguins who was appointed by Coachella Valley on June 21. The Firebird team is scheduled to start playing next season.
“I am delighted to be joining the Kraken organization and working with Dan and his staff on the inaugural season of the Coachella Valley Firebirds hockey season,” Campbell said. “I would like to thank the players and coaches I have worked with along the way who have helped me reach this level. I am excited to bring a new coaching perspective and be able to teach our players the tools and skills needed to impact players every night while raising the bar for what we can achieve as a team this season.”
“Having a chance to help build a culture and team from scratch is something that doesn’t happen often and I’m really looking forward to getting started in development camp.”
Campbell was Germany’s assistant at the 2022 IIHF World Championships, and is the first woman to join the coaching staff of the national team participating in the tournament. This season, she worked for the US Hockey League’s Tri-City, led the Windy City Storm Girl’s Hockey program in Chicago and was an assistant and skills coach for the Nurnberg team in the Deutsche Eishockey League.
“Jessica’s skill and talent for developing players who understand all aspects of the game and what it takes to succeed on and off the ice is her strength,” Bilsma said. “She has a passion for developing all aspects of the game and creating impact players. We are focused on building a culture of influence, skill, and persistence for both Coachella Valley Firebirds and Seattle Kraken and know Jessica’s talent will help us establish that culture in our opening year.”
A native of Rockanville, Saskatchewan, Campbell played four years at Cornell and was the captain of her first season. She played professionally for Calgary of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League from 2014-17, winning the Clarkson Cup in 2016, and for Canada at the U-18 World Youth Championship, where she scored the tournament-winning goal and was named the Most Valuable Player in 2010.
Campbell was also a special ski and skills coach for NHL players and prospects including former Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens captain Shea Weber, defender lok chinTwice winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Cup in 2020 and 2021, Canadiens defenseman Joel EdmondsonMinnesota Wild, striker Tyson Jost New York Islanders Center Matthew Barzalamong other things.
“The process started when we hired Dan,” said Ron Francis, general manager of Kraken. “He asked if I was open to all candidates, and I said sure. We interviewed a bunch of candidates and in Jessica’s case, she combines a lot of interesting things. She has a solid background as a skate coach and some skills. That’s interesting. She had coaching experience. She was interesting, seeing her off the bench at the World Championships with Germany. She has a lot of good experience on the coaching side there as well. So we think she’s got a bright future in the game and we’re excited to bring her into our territory and work with our prospects as we try to build the Kraken from the millennium. to the Z”.
The Kraken (27-49-6) finished last in the Pacific Division this season, their first in the NHL.