American women’s hockey star Amanda Kessel is joining the Pittsburgh Penguins for an executive management program that could put her on the right track to working full-time in an NHL office.
Kessel is the first participant in the new program the team unveiled on Wednesday. She follows the lead of retired American star and Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato and other women in NHL management roles.
Kessel said she’s excited to learn on the job with the Penguins, where she’ll work alongside team executives in the hockey operations, marketing and broadcast departments.
“The Penguins have given me the opportunity to use my experience and love for hockey in a whole new capacity and I look forward to making the most of this program,” Kessel said in a statement.
Granato and former agent Émilie Castonguay are assistant general managers for the Vancouver Canucks, Kessel teammate Kendall Coyne Schofield is a player development coach for the Chicago Blackhawks, and retired Canadian stars Hayley Wickenheiser and Danielle Goyette work for the Toronto Maple Leafs in player development.
The Penguins program is the first of its kind in the NHL. Other teams following suit could open the door for more women and minorities to step into leadership positions, which are still held almost exclusively in the league by white men.
“The Penguins have always taken the lead in innovation, and this is an example of our vision for the future as an organization to foster diversity and inclusion in the National Hockey League,” said Penguins President and CEO David Morehouse. “Our new leadership program provides unprecedented access for women and minorities to advance to permanent leadership positions in hockey and other professional sports.”
Kessel, 30, has represented the United States at the past three Winter Olympics, winning a gold medal in 2018 and winning silver in 2014 and 2022.
She joins the team where her brother Phil won the Stanley Cup twice. While attending a Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association event in Pittsburgh recently, she said the city held special meaning to her family.
Kessel also said at the time that Granato and others inspired her and her teammates to consider working in the NHL.
“If there’s a way, anywhere you want to stay in the game, and especially at the National Hockey League level, that’s everyone’s dream,” Kessel told The Associated. Press at the time. “We didn’t see those opportunities or it was more of a dream, but now it’s a reality for a band, and it kind of paves the way for the rest of us, knowing that if you don’t play , there are other avenues to stay in the game. And that’s huge for us. It’s people like Cammi leading the way and hopefully following in her footsteps.”
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