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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

‘I’ve left with so much’: Cass Turner serves as guest coach with Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals
Quinnipiac head coach Cass Turner spent Dec. 12-13 serving as a guest coach with the Washington Capitals.

The Quinnipiac women’s ice hockey team may be putting its feet up following a successful first half of the season, but head coach Cass Turner certainly isn’t. This past week Turner spent two days as a guest coach for a pair of practices with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. 

“We are excited to continue our efforts in providing opportunities for female college coaches to work with our coaching staff during the season,” Capitals president and general manager Brian MacLellan wrote in a press release. “Cassie is a talented coach, and we think her presence and experience will benefit our coaches, organization, and players.”

Turner’s involvement with the Capitals was brought together by the NHL Coaches’ Association Female Coaches Program. The program, founded in 2020, aims to support female coaches in areas including skills development, leadership strategies, communication tactics, networking and career advancement opportunities. Throughout the 2022-23 season, 83 female coaches will participate in the program. 

“I came into it really with an open mind and just to kind of try to take it all in, and I think I’ve left with so much,” Turner said. “I (learned) just little things that I think make such a big difference for what we do in our program.”

Turner shared the ice with Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery and even Stanley Cup champions Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson. 

For Turner, it’s been a unique experience that she believes has gone above and beyond what many NHL clubs do for female coaches. 

“I think Spencer certainly has had a really open mind to creating an experience that I don’t know that everyone gets,” Turner said. “He really wanted me to be involved and I’ve been a part of everything for the past two days, and really been able to listen and learn which has been amazing.”

With her team on break, Turner has been able to use the last couple days to fully dive into how an NHL program operates. The biggest thing she learned? Process. 

“I think it’s so clear that there’s a process and there’s a method behind everything that they do in this organization,” Turner said. “There’s a purpose to everything and it just made me think about some areas where I can continue to have purpose behind what we do, and it’s been pretty neat to see.”  

She hasn’t been the only one soaking up information though, Carbery is learning just as much from the Quinnipiac coach. 

“She’s been phenomenal,” Carbery said. “I just learned a boatload about the transfer portal, how that all works, good and bad. Her being able to come and spend a few days here and sit in on the meetings and pick up on some things that we do as an organization and also pick up on some things that she does at her program and why they’ve been successful. It’s been great having her here.”  

Turner is hopeful that her involvement with the Capitals is just the beginning of more opportunities for female coaches in the NHL. 

“(The program) totally can open doors,” Turner said. “It may not be me, but I think even these players having a female around and seeing me out on the ice … It could be that the next girl comes along and that everyone’s just a little bit more open to it and understands that it’s the same game and we can all coach this game and contribute.” 

This past September, Jessica Campbell, an assistant coach for the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds, sat behind the bench for a preseason game with the Seattle Kraken, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

The Capitals aren’t foreign to the idea of female coaches. They were the first franchise to hire a female coach in video coordinator Emily Engel-Natzke. That said, the league has never had an NHL female coach behind the bench of any of its franchises.  

This isn’t the first time a Bobcat has skated on NHL ice either. Former forward, Danielle Marmer, who graduated in 2017 worked with the Boston Bruins as a scouting assistant and in player development. Marmer is now the general manager of the PWHL’s Boston franchise. 

Joining Marmer in the PWHL are nine former Bobcat players who have earned roster spots in the league. Turner’s husband, Paul, is also involved as a scout with the Boston franchise. 

“I think (the PWHL) is just going to help to grow the game and continue to put our game in a place where people can see it,” Turner said. “The game has been played at a pretty high level but people haven’t seen it, and that’s going to be the most amazing thing about it.”

While Turner would usually use this week to get away from the game, she believes this experience was more valuable than any form of relaxation would be. 

“This was outstanding because I think anything I could have done to get refreshed and ready would not have been like this,” Turner said. “ I just feel excited for the second half of our season, and I don’t need any time off, this was the time off, and it’s got me in such a great place.” 

Turner will return to Quinnipiac with a bevy of new experiences as her team gets ready for the second half of the season, beginning on Dec. 30 against LIU. 


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Colin Kennedy
Colin Kennedy, Managing Editor

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