Aisha Visram makes history as first woman to serve behind NHL bench

Head trainer for the AHL's Ontario Reign Aisha Visram pictured behind the Los Angeles Kings' bench on Thursday, January 13. (Photo LA Kings Twitter)

Before the puck even dropped for Thursday’s contest between the Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, trainer Aisha Visram made history as the first woman to serve behind an NHL bench.

As the head athletic trainer for the Ontario Reign, Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate, Visram was called up by the NHL club to fill in for support staff members absent due to COVID-19 protocol.

Visram has come a long way. In 2012, she joined St. Lawrence University’s men’s hockey team staff as an assistant trainer, and stayed until 2017 before becoming the head athletic trainer and strength coach for the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder.

She then joined the Reign as assistant trainer for the 2020-21 season, before making the jump to head trainer in July.

More than anything, Visram is blazing a path for more women to get involved in the NHL.

“When I was growing up the idea of women working in professional hockey was still a little crazy and I’ve been lucky that a lot of really qualified, driven women came before me to pave the way,” said Visram in a video posted by the Reign Thursday night. “I think it means that the game is trying to be more inclusive, I think for a long time it had a reputation of not really being that way, and I think this push is showing that none of us feel that it’s an exclusive sport for a certain group of people, it’s for everyone. Every background. Every gender.”

After Los Angeles’ 6-2 win, Kings coach Todd McLellan emphasized the need for more stories like hers.

“That’s incredible, that’s great. We need more of that in our game,” said McLellan. “I can tell you that Aisha is a big part of our organization.”

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