Last Wednesday the Arizona Coyotes announced they had hired Dawn Braid as their full time skating coach. She is the first woman to be hired as a full time coach in NHL History. Barb Underhill, who is now working as a consultant for the Toronto Maple Leafs, was employed by the New York Islanders in 1977 in an undetermined role.
This hire is important for many reasons. Firstly, having a skating coach who has helped the likes of John Tavares will be beneficial for the Coyotes skaters like Dylan Strome and other prospects. Each player has something that needs to be tweaked but with the help of Braid, they should be able to fix the deficiencies they have in their skating. She has been working for the Coyotes as a part-time coach over the last few years with Connor Murphy and Max Domi, two players who will be critical in the rebuild.
Secondly, this hiring should open the door for women being hired in visible positions throughout the NHL. The Coyotes have been on the cutting edge of the league with their GM hiring, their front office structure and some of their draft picks and moves. But the hiring of Dawn Braid as a full time skating coach is huge. It means she is respected and they know she can do her job amazingly well.
The fact that this is a reason to hire a woman in a position like that is a bit disheartening. But the Coyotes culture is a bit different than your normal team.
"I've been working for the team for over a season now and I've felt, both as a development coach and as a member of the media team, like the organization respects my contributions for what they are- not to fill a quota." Cat Silverman, a member of the Arizona Coyotes Amateur Development team said via email.
"I haven't felt pushed aside for male coworkers, and I feel like I can hold a conversation with everyone. From Tippett to (John) Elkin to Tyson Nash and Matt McConnell and feel like I'm considered an equal in their eyes. It's a pretty welcoming environment and as far as organizations go that seem like good fits for having full-time female staff that aren't discredited, the Coyotes are at the top of my list."
If you take a look around the league, you wonder if other teams would be as open to this. Having a team who supports and listens to their full-time female staff is something that needs to be more common. With my interactions with the organization, they respect the many female reporters they have covering the team.
If you take a look around the arena, you see that the demographic of Coyotes fans is about a 60/40 split of women to men. This is important to remember.
With Dawn Braid being hired and elevated to a full time coaching position, it brings the spotlight back to the Coyotes. To the ragtag group in the desert bucking the trend and making history.
History has its eyes on Arizona, and this time it's for the better.