Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

It's Called "Progress"

It might be time to give the Arizona Coyotes a lot of credit. They were questioned when they hired a 28 year-old as their general manager, and John Chayka has suddenly become one of the best GMs in the game after leading the Coyotes on a successful draft and free agency period. While they may not be a playoff team just yet, they have built and continue to build an impressive stable of players under the age of 25 while keeping integral parts of their team on the payroll. Today, the Coyotes went off the map again in adding to their coaching staff, and this hiring shows all the moxie you've come to expect from Chayka.

While everyone has used the term "history" when it comes to this hiring, I prefer to use the word "progress". It's about time that a woman be added to a team's coaching staff in a prominent role, and I commend the Coyotes on their hiring of Dawn Braid as the organization's full-time Skating Coach. Braid has a long history of working with NHL teams, and finally someone had the bright idea of putting her on a payroll. Funny how it was the youngest GM in the league that made that decision.

Braid, pictured to the right, worked with the Coyotes as a skating consultant under GM Don Maloney last year, and has also worked with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames at points in her career. She was part of the Athletes Training Center as director of skating development, and has worked with NHL stars such as John Tavares. In other words, she knows her craft and teaches it well.

"It's something that I've wanted to see happen," Braid told NHL.com. "The fact that they respect what I do enough to name me as a full-time coach, or to name me as the first female coach in the NHL, I take a ton of pride in that. I've worked very hard for this opportunity. It's been going on for years and I just look forward to going even further with it."

It's 2016, folks. Women have been working in and teaching hockey and skating for years. While her hiring is historic in becoming the first woman named to a coaching staff in the NHL, this is a very progressive move by a league whose "old boys' club" really holds all the cards. The fact that a 28 year-old analytical general manager made this move shows that it might take new thinking to open up the NHL to women and minorities, but the change is happening.

It's hard for me to understand why great women such as Shannon Miller, Barb Underhill, Laura Stamm, Cathy Andrade, Sarah Hodges, or Rachel Flanangan aren't being promoted through Hockey Canada and considered for positions in hockey by franchises across the continent. All of these women have exceptional skills and understanding of the game, and yet none of them hold positions within the professional ranks of men's hockey despite having these skills and abilities.

The fact that Dawn Braid might open a door for many other women is a significant step, though, and here's hoping that other franchises look to the fairer sex when needing a competent professional to fill a position of authority behind the bench. If the Coyotes show significant improvement this season over their finish from the last campaign, I believe that Ms. Braid will have a lot to do with it. Skating is one of the most important skills in the game, and improvements to skating will only make players faster and stronger on their skates. I'm pretty sure 29 other NHL teams want those same improvements as well.

Congratulations to Dawn Braid on becoming the first woman to hold down a full-time NHL coaching position. Now it's time for the other 29 teams to step up and show that they understand it's 2016 as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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