GLENDALE – Dawn Braid is excited to be joining the Coyotes as the team’s new full-time Skating Coach in what is believed to be an historic hiring. According to NHL.com, Braid is the first female to hold a full-time coaching position with an NHL team.
“It's something that I've wanted to see happen,” Braid, 52, told ArizonaCoyotes.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.”
|Dawn Braid. Photo by Rob McMorris |
Braid, a former figure skater who competed in pairs and dance, got into coaching skating as a teenager at the suggestion of her father, who purchased a Junior B hockey club in Vaughan, Ontario, to help area players compete at a high level without leaving home.
“At that time I was actually the same age as the players and didn’t think coaching was the right thing, but he felt it was going to work so we took a chance with it and actually, back then, he said to me ‘I believe you can take this to a whole different level and into the NHL,’” Braid said. “I sort of laughed at my father when he said that … He was sort of the drive behind all of this.”
Braid’s father, Bill White, died of brain cancer just before his daughter started consulting NHL players in 2005. Sonce then, she has worked as a consultant for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames, and she spent seven years as the director of skating development at Athletes Training Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, instructing clients that included New York Islanders captain John Tavares. Her first NHL client was Michael Peca, a two-time winner of the Selke Award for best defensive forward in the NHL.
The details have yet to be finalized, but Braid said she expects to be based in Arizona for the majority of the 2016-17 season. She will work with the Coyotes when they are at home and travel to Tucson to work with players on Arizona’s new American Hockey League team if they are home when the Coyotes are on the road. When she's not working with the Coyotes, she will continue to serve as a consultant for the Calgary Flames.
“It’s exciting,” Braid said about her new gig. “It’s a young team and I look forward to working with the whole organization and the coaching staff, and being part of that development. I’m looking forward to growing with the team.”
|Dawn Braid. Photo by Rob McMorris |
General Manager John Chayka said Braid, who has worked with the Coyotes on a part-time basis in recent seasons, enhances Dave Tippett’s coaching staff.
“We feel that Dawn can provide a real competitive advantage for our team,” Chayka said. “The game is getting faster and it’s all about skating. A lot of times, when you’re drafting a young player, skating is an area that they need to improve upon. Now we have someone who can help them with that.”
He added: “Dawn is someone who we feel is at the top of her field so we thought it was imperative to hire her. She’s got a great personality and the players work hard for her and respect her knowledge. The bottom line is she gets results and that’s the key thing. Dawn is someone who ‘Tip’ and I respect, and we feel that she’s going to be a very important asset for us.”
Braid said she is consulting about 200 pro hockey players this off-season including Coyotes defenseman Connor Murphy, who worked with Braid one-on-one the past two summers.
“I found it helped me improve my skating a lot,” Murphy said. “Her sessions are not just all about doing skating drills. She does a lot of breaking things down with video and pictures. Within my first week with her last summer, she had my backward skating changed drastically. I was doing a lot of fidgeting and skating with stiffness and not too much fluidity. She helped me stay lower and be more relaxed and keep my upper body calm, and that translated into me skating more fluid and smooth and strong. She really helped me perfect my posture.”