Hi, it’s Heather from Skate Helper. With the NHL starting back up I would like to acknowledge all the women working in leadership roles within the NHL. We are in a new era with Covid-19 and change is happening everywhere. It is time to see more women take on leadership roles in all sports organizations.
Most people don’t realize that on average, there are 46.6 people working in each NHL team’s hockey operations – two of which are women – making the average hockey operations department 96 percent male.
I recently read an article written by Kevin Allen in USA Today and he laid out the different areas in which women have leadership roles within the NHL.
The headline was “Still a long way to go,” but women are gaining ground with new roles in the NHL.
Below highlight a few female leaders making a difference in the NHL.
- Hall of Fame player Cammi Granato was hired by the expansion Seattle franchise as the NHL’s first female pro scout.
- Hayley Wickenheiser is the Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development.
- Kim Davis (executive vice president, social growth, growth initiatives) and Heidi Browning (chief marketing officer) both hold league senior management positions, reporting directly to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
- Sabres owner Kim Pegula also serves as president of the NFL’s Bills and the Sabres.
Women play hockey and understand the game
We must remember that girls and women play hockey and understand the game. Roughly 40% of NHL fans are female. Furthermore, girls and women’s hockey are growing three times faster than the men’s game.
“Before, women didn’t have the experience or it was all about who you already know; now there is more openness to saying, ‘Who is out there who can help our organization be better,’” said Aimee Kimball, the Devils’ director of player and team development. “Now, more women have various experience, whether it’s through education, playing or through other jobs, to put them into a position to influence hockey.” When Kimball was a junior in high school, playing soccer, basketball and softball, she took a psychology course and became fascinated by the brain and how it contributes to an athlete’s success. She has been working with players for 13 years, starting in 2006 with the Penguins. She believes women offer a different perspective.
“I think if it were my 18-year-old, 19-year-old or 20-year-old (self), what kind of support would I think they would need?” she said.
The NHL and NHLPA
The NHL and NHLPA created a female advisory board in March 2019 to help promote that idea. The committee doles out grant money, and it is having an impact. In 2018, only six of the 31 NHL teams had all-girl youth hockey programs. In 2019, 24 teams have all-girl programs.
The NHL & NHLPA Female Hockey Advisory Committee includes 11 women with varied backgrounds and experiences: Michele Amidon, Annie Camins, Maria Dennis, Mandi Duhamel, Lyndsey Fry, Angela James, Tarasai Karega, Kelsey Koelzer, AJ Mleczko Griswold, Caroline Popilchak, and Kristen Wright. This esteemed group of women has a combined 50-plus years of professional hockey playing experience, 30 years of professional hockey coaching experience, four Olympic medals, and 26 World Championship medals.
I would like to congratulate all the women mentioned and all others working to elevate women in hockey and women in leadership roles within sports organizations.