Danielle Goyette, director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs, set for stint as ECHL's first female coach

Danielle Goyette will make history Thursday as the first woman to act as an assistant coach in the ECHL.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist for Canada and current director of player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs will be filling in after Newfoundland Growlers head coach Eric Wellwood tested positive for COVID-19.

Nathan McIver will take over as acting head coach, and Goyette will step in as assistant for Thursday and Friday's games.

This is a natural progression for Goyette, who transitioned into coaching almost immediately following her decorated playing career.

In 2007, Goyette was named head coach of the University of Calgary Dinos, with whom she won a national championship in 2012. She was also an assistant coach for Team Canada at the World Championships in 2012 and at the Olympic Games in 2014.

Goyette's accomplishments have been recognized through her induction into both the IIHF Hall of Fame (2013) and Hockey Hall of Fame (2017). She was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2018.

It was another hockey great -- Leafs' senior director of player development Hayley Wickenheiser -- who ultimately coaxed Goyette out of the college ranks and into an NHL position. Wickenheiser was promoted in May 2021 to her current role, as the highest-ranking female in an NHL hockey operations department, and she quickly tapped former teammate Goyette to be her right-hand woman.

Goyette, 56, is on a short list of women who have coached men's professional hockey. Kendall Coyne Schofield was the first female to step behind an AHL bench when she was a temporary assistant coach for the Rockford IceHogs last May. At the college level, Ellen Weinberg-Hughes -- mother to NHLers Jack and Quinn -- was an assistant coach for the University of New Hampshire soccer and hockey teams while attending graduate school.