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Emily Engel-Natzke joins Capitals’ staff as video coordinator

(Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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The Washington Capitals named Emily Engel-Natzke their video coordinator Thursday, making her the first female video coach in NHL history.

Engel-Natzke previously was video coach for the Hershey Bears, the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate. The 31-year-old was hired by the Bears in November 2020 and was the first female coach in the Capitals’ organization.

As she makes the leap to the NHL, she will work alongside Capitals video coach Brett Leonhardt. No other NHL team has a woman working on its coaching staff full time, the Capitals said.

“It is obviously really exciting, just the opportunity to work with [Coach Peter Laviolette], his staff and Brett Leonhardt, who has been a video coach for 10 years now, so I’m really grateful,” Engel-Natzke said during a video conference call Wednesday. “My time in Hershey has been awesome, and I think it has really prepared me for this opportunity, so I’m really excited to get down to D.C. and join the staff.”

From the archives: Emily Engel-Natzke’s dad was her ‘biggest fan.’ He died of covid-19 before her hockey triumph.

Before Engel-Natzke joined the Bears, she was at the University of Wisconsin, where she was the assistant director of operations/video coordinator. She worked with the men’s and women’s teams as video coordinator from 2015 to 2017 but focused solely on the men from 2017 to 2020. She said her experience working under men’s coach Tony Granato, the former NHL standout, helped her advance in hockey.

“He was really key in helping me learn and grow and push to be an NHL-style video coach with a heavy workload, long hours,” Engel-Natzke said. “Once I started working with him, I felt like that dream could be a reality.”

Laviolette praised Engel-Natzke for her dedication to her craft in a demanding field that requires long hours that often go unnoticed.

“We feel like we hired really a qualified person that we brought into the organization two years ago and came in and did an outstanding job, and that’s what development is all about,” Laviolette said. “For me, we got the best person, and that’s the most important thing.”

In Washington, Engel-Natzke replaces Jared Elenberger, who left the organization to pursue other opportunities. Engel-Natzke and her wife, Spencer, will soon move to the D.C. area, and she will be at the team’s development camp in mid-July.

Engel-Natzke said it is encouraging that more women have been hired by NHL teams in the past year, and she said it was an honor to be included in that group.

“It’s kind of surreal, I guess,” she said. “… I think if you may have asked me a week ago, I wouldn’t have wanted it to be a big deal. But with everything that’s going on … I’m more so just honored to be, I guess, the first. Hopefully that just opens the door even further for people who want to get into this job and this profession.”