Cory Chiffrey fondly reflects on the conversations she had with her grandfather who grew up in Nova Scotia, who encouraged her to believe that anything could be achieved in sports.
The first woman to play for the Toronto Blue Jays? certainly. Does she raise the Stanley Cup over her head while representing the Toronto Maple Leafs? Go for it.
Although doing so as a player is now out of the question, Chevrey’s aspirations to break the gender look much more achievable today for the 34-year-old, who has spent the past five years chipping away at the male-only hockey training barrier.
In 2017, Chevrey became the first assistant coach for a Canadian university-level men’s hockey team (formerly at Toronto Metropolitan University – Ryerson). This month, after serving as an assistant on the Canadian Women’s Olympic Championship team, she completed a stint as the first Canadian female hockey player behind the men’s team seat at the World Under-18 Championship.
“It’s kind of funny, looking back and thinking about those conversations when I was a kid, because I’m the first to do a few things on the men’s side in hockey,” Chiffrey said, recalling conversations with her grandfather, Jack Rehell. “They talk about my boundless childhood growing up, and what I was told I could be capable of.”
She is not finished dreaming.
Cheverie’s rise along with the growing number of women entering professional hockey management and development roles has quickly accelerated the schedule for when – not if – there will be a woman working behind the NHL bench.
As much as Pittsburgh Penguins president, Brian Burke, thinks the glass ceiling should have been shattered yesterday, he balances his impatience by noting the league’s forays to torpedo its image as an old boys’ club.
“I think we’re basically connected to our past, which is white people playing hockey and going into management,” Burke told The Associated Press.
“It may be building slower than people like,” he added. “But I am very encouraged by the change in the past two years for the role of women in hockey, which has gone from non-existent to significant in a very short period of time.”
In the four years since Hailee Wickenheiser opened the door to becoming the assistant director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the league’s hockey-related ranks have increased to nearly 30. And that doesn’t include five NHL teams that have female chiefs.
The Penguins are among the NHL teams leading the way. With two women already on the hockey team, the Penguins expanded the roster by naming U.S. Olympian Amanda Kessel as the team’s first executive management program participant last month. Vancouver is the first NHL team to employ not one but two assistant general managers Cammi Granato and Emilie Castonguay.
“I think it would be myopic if people didn’t believe that eventually there would be some kind of gender parity, not just in hockey but in every industry,” said Lindsey Artkin, president of the NHL Coaches Association. Be unrealistic to see a woman named to the NHL after next season.
The NHLCA played a role in fast movement tracking. Backed by her male training membership, Artkin launched a female development program two years ago.
The program identified 50 women – including Cheverie – at various levels to work directly with NHL coaches on advanced training courses. Aside from brainstorming, the program also provided networking opportunities with women previously lacking in getting on the radar as potential training candidates.
While Artkin said NHL coaches were impressed by the wealth of knowledge the women bring, participants found that the sessions reinforced the belief to be equal when working with men.
That’s absolutely certain. The terms may be a little different, but we all speak the same language,” said Bethany Brawson, assistant coach for women at the University of St. Thomas.
Whatever Brawzen’s concerns about supervising men may have been, they faded when one male coach said that most guys don’t care about sex but only one thing: Does training make them better?
“That’s a very simple thing,” said Prause. “But I think hearing a guy, training at this level, say it outright, it’s of course.” Why does it matter how you look or, frankly, what your background is? “
A 25-minute drive-in conversation with Kristen Baumstead was all it took to convince former Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Morris how familiar she was with her recommendation for the program.
Morris said of Baumstead, who has just completed her first year as an assistant for the University of Saskatchewan women’s team, “Kristen is going to be a great coach. She’s one now. There are a lot of really smart young coaches, some of them male, some of them female, and now they have an opportunity that didn’t exist.” 20 years ago.
He’s confident in breaking the gender barrier, much like the walls have fallen in remembering how Canadian hockey leagues once shunned American-born players.
“If you’re not willing to change and evolve as a coach, you’re done,” Morris said, before pointing out that “men don’t have the market confined to communication.”
He said of the Canadian Olympian-turned-drinker, “You listen to Jennifer Pottrell on TV. She talks about the game differently. It’s just a different point of view sometimes. It may or may not have anything to do with being a woman. But it’s interesting.” ‘
The NHL has fallen behind three other major North American professional sports in hiring women.
In 2019, Rachel Balkovich became the first full-time female baseball coach to work in Major League Baseball, and this year she became the game’s first female minor league head coach. Seven assistants participated in the NBA this year. The NFL’s female coaches rank rose to 12 last season.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he expects the process to hire women as coaches to evolve, rather than impose quotas or enforce rules.
“I hope we don’t need that,” Bateman said. “I hope it evolves to the point where it becomes part of the way you work where you don’t need arbitrary rules for people to do the right things.”
Chances of this have greatly improved, said NHL vice president Kim Davis, appreciating the development program to provide women with direct access to those with hiring authority.
Davis said, “The fact that they have access and that you have women in these roles is ultimately going to lead to these women ascending to these top positions as managers and coaches. So I am very encouraged by our progression. We have a lot to do. We are not on a winning run anyway. of the conditions’.
As much as Sheffrey would like to be the first woman hired to coach in the NHL, she stressed that the opportunity must be a fit to work on a staff and a team that is open to having her voice heard.
She said, “I’d love to be in the NHL. Of course, I think many female coaches would do that. But that’s not all, it’s the end of everything for me. I want to do my best.” .
Chiffrey added, “I’m really looking forward to the day when this isn’t a conversation. I hope that day is the day we’re just talking about a coach coaching a team and trying to help them win versus how they do it. A female fits in with a male group in a sporting environment.” ‘