“Making it to the NHL.” Most of us picture a male hockey player achieving his dream of being an on-ice superstar. But getting into the league is a goal females have too. Among the many people working tirelessly behind the scenes are a bunch of strong-minded women helping the players shine bright on the big stage. From coaching to establishing partnerships to broadcasting, women have been “making it to the NHL” for years, and, more importantly, have been helping the league thrive.
In this article are 10 women who make the NHL what it is.
Skating Coach (Arizona Coyotes)
A true trailblazer, Dawn Braid was the first female to get a full-time coaching position with the NHL. She spends her time improving the skating performances of NHL captains and league MVPs. Having grown up a talented figure skater, Baird began coaching skating when her father purchased a Junior B hockey team. Though she was the same age as most of the players, her father was convinced there was a lot they could learn from her. The rest is history.
Director of Hockey Strategy and Research (Seattle Kraken)
Alexandra Mandrycky was the first front-office hire for the Seattle Kraken. She carries a strong knack for analytics and has worked for the Minnesota Wild as a hockey operations analyst. For the next year she will assist the Kraken’s scouts by conducting data-based assessments of prospects.
NHL Executive VP of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs
It’s a large title to match a large role. Since November 2017, Kim Davis has worked tirelessly to guide the NHL in creating paths that cultivate more diverse and inclusive fanbases, teams, front offices and everything in between. She carries out the same role for Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.
NHL Executive VP of Club Business Affairs
It would be an understatement to say Susan Cohig is a strong force behind the NHL. After working with the league for over 20 years, there’s nothing she can’t do when it comes to the business side of things, including marketing, broadcasting partnerships and finances. The Las Vegas Golden Knights owe much of their success to Cohig, who played a large role in launching their franchise.
3ICE Head Coach
Angela Ruggiero will be one of eight head coaches of the brand new 3-on-3 ice hockey league, which is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2021. The four-time Olympian is also a Hall of Famer, successful businessperson and a respected former member of the International Olympic Committee.
Hockey Night in Canada Broadcaster
Cassie Campbell-Pascall was the first woman to do colour commentating on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada, making her debut on Oct. 14, 2006 when the Toronto Maple Leafs played the Calgary Flames. Currently working as a TV analyst for Hockey Night in Canada, she’s also worked for the Olympics and TSN, and was the first woman to work for NHL Network.
Scout (Seattle Kraken)
The future of the newest NHL team lies in the hands of Cammi Granato, the NHL’s first female hockey scout. The Olympic gold medallist, who was one of the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, has also worked as a colour commentator for NBC’s NHL coverage and also for the Los Angeles Kings.
NHL Executive VP and Marketing Officer
Heidi Browning focuses on the NHL’s digital initiatives and developments, leading the charge for the league’s marketing campaigns. She spends much of her time figuring out how to best reach and keep the attention of new and younger NHL audiences. Before joining the NHL, Browning led digital marketing strategies and solutions for companies including Fox Interactive Media, Universal McCann and Pandora.
NHLPA Director of Player Health and Safety and Associate Counsel
Maria Dennis keeps NHL players’ health and safety in tip-top shape so they can continue performing well on the ice. She represents the NHLPA on multiple health and safety committees including Joint Health and Safety, Concussion and Medical Standards. She is an expert in a variety of areas of health and safety, ranging from playing equipment to injuries to substance abuse.
Assistant Director of Player Development (Toronto Maple Leafs)
At the time she was hired, Hayley Wickenheiser had the highest hockey operations role held by a woman. In her job she monitors the development of prospects in the WHL, and also works on the ice with the Maple Leafs a few times a month.