Kraken's Historic Hire of Jessica Campbell Was Spot On

Vince Carbonneau
July 8, 2024  (9:45)

Jessica Campbell in action
Photo credit: As USA

Jessica Campbell: Kraken's Historic Hire

There's nothing that makes me more upset than seeing groundbreaking stories – sports or otherwise – met with assumptions and stereotypes.
That was inevitably the case with the most significant local headline of the week.
Jessica Campbell is now the first full-time female assistant coach in NHL history. She joins new Kraken coach Dan Bylsma behind the bench at the highest level, after joining him two years ago in Coachella Valley, where she became the first full-time female assistant at that level too.
The hire is historic. Remarkable. And most importantly: Absolutely appropriate and deserving. Full stop.
And yet, while the majority of reactions were positive, it only took a few glances at social media to witness the ignorant knee-jerk takes from the peanut gallery: questions about whether Campbell actually earned this position, obtuse rationalizations about this being a product of Seattle being "woke," and comments completely discrediting someone who should be enjoying all the credit in the world.
For those unaware, this was anything but a token hire. Her five-year resume is all the proof you need.
Campbell didn't initially aim to be an NHL coach. She started her own power skating business to train top athletes. As she put it, the list of NHL players on her client list grew from two guys to ten guys to 20-25 guys.
That's business building. That's word of mouth. That's entrepreneurial spirit.
Those NHL players actively chose to go to her and reaped the benefits – no one forced them.
This led her to the German national team bench as an assistant coach at the world championships two years ago. That opportunity led to Coachella Valley, where she's widely credited with helping undrafted player Ty Kartye develop the skating skills needed to become a regular contributor at the NHL level.
Remove the word "woman" from the equation, and you have a well-regarded coach who – given that track record – we should be excited about coaching the Kraken forwards and assisting on the power play this upcoming season.
When the news broke, it was clear Campbell didn't want the limelight. She graciously answered questions but did so as part of a joint press conference with the rest of the coaching staff. She's clearly a team player carrying a torch and new hopes for a demographic that's never had an opportunity like this in the NHL.
"I think what's special and what I'm excited about is whether it's a young girl or young boy's first NHL game, they're not going to see anything different than what they can possibly become," Campbell said. "I'm happy to be able to play that role and picture that for the young kids."
And it took me three minutes to even get to her four-year college career as a player and captaining Team Canada to a Silver Medal in the 2015 World Championships.
Frankly, I look forward to the day when a hire like this is so normal that people aren't questioning credentials just because it's a woman. But for now, maybe we should take a page out of Billie Jean King's book and celebrate how remarkable it is without foolish suspicion.
So, yeah, the Kraken have a good one, folks. And anyone who doesn't believe it can take their "woke" and "token hire" thoughts back to their parents' basement if it makes them sleep better at night.
Kraken's Historic Hire of Jessica Campbell Was Spot On

Do you believe Jessica Campbell's hire will positively impact the Seattle Kraken's performance?

Yes2990.6 %
No39.4 %
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