Seattle Kraken’s Jessica Campbell Becomes the First Woman to Coach in the NHL: ‘An Important Day’

Campbell was named one of the team's new assistant coaches on Wednesday, after two years as an assistant in the AHL

<p>Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty</p> Jessica Campbell

Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty

Jessica Campbell

Jessica Campbell is making history — again!

Campbell, 32, will become the first woman to lead behind an NHL bench after being named one of the new assistant coaches for the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday.

The franchise announced it will promote Campbell to an assistant coach position, making her the first woman to coach in the league’s 105 year history.

The team also announced it hired Bob Woods as an assistant coach, with both Campbell and Woods set to join head coach Dan Bylsma behind the bench.

Campbell said she is "humbled to be in this position," in a statement shared with PEOPLE.

"I'm reminded often [to be making history as the first female coach] and it just puts a lot of meaning into the work," she said. "I know that if the team has success and that my impact is a good one, it could potentially open up doors for others and open eyes for others to maybe think differently. I try to really keep my eyes fixed on what matters every day to be in the now, to be in the moment, to stay in the trenches with the players. And though I am honored to be the first, I don't want to be the only.”

<p>Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty</p> Jessica Campbell

Christopher Mast/NHLI via Getty

Jessica Campbell

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“This is an important day for our organization,” Seattle Kraken General Manager Ron Francis said in a statement shared with PEOPLE. “We’re bringing in valuable coaching experience to our staff and are confident that both Bob and Jessica will make an immediate impact for our team.”

Campbell previously made history in July 2022 by becoming the first woman to work as an assistant coach in the AHL, the NHL’s minor league affiliate. The Saskatchewan native has been an assistant coach for the Coachella Valley Firebirds for the last two seasons, where she also worked alongside Bylsma while he was the head coach of Seattle’s minor league team.

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<p>Peter Schatz/Alamy Live News</p> Jessica Campbell

Peter Schatz/Alamy Live News

Jessica Campbell

“During our tenure in Coachella Valley, I saw firsthand Jessica’s commitment to player development,” Bylsma, 53, said in a statement also shared with PEOPLE. “Her ability to establish relationships with her players, specifically Tye Kartye, Shane Wright and Ryker Evans, 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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Before joining Coachella in the AHL, Campbell worked as an assistant coach and skills coach for the Nürnberg Ice Tigers of the DEL, the top men’s professional league in Germany during the 2021-22 season. Campbell has also served as an assistant coach for Team Germany at the 2022 IIHF World Championship, a team that also included current Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

Campbell is a former player herself, as well. A former captain at Cornell University, Campbell played three seasons professionally with the Calgary Inferno in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League before joining the Malmo Redhawks for one season in Sweden’s Division 1 league.

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She also was named the MVP of the 2010 IIHF World Championship tournament as she led the competition in scoring and helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal.

"She has an interesting background not only with skating, but skill development," Francis said at a news conference on Wednesday, according to ESPN. "That's been a big part of what they've been able to do with Coachella Valley. She runs the power play, works with the forwards, and works with everybody's on helping improve their skating, their skill development and, as Dan said, both her and Stu Bickel have been a big part of their success down there."

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