Kendall Coyne Schofield wants young girls to take one message away from her past week: never doubt the belief you’ve built in yourself.
Last Friday, Coyne Schofield, the U.S. national team player and forward for the NWHL Minnesota Whitecaps, became the first woman to participate in NHL All-Star Weekend, competing in the fastest skater skills event. That piggybacked into a gig on Wednesday serving as a guest analyst on NBC Sports’ broadcast of the Pittsburgh Penguins versus Tampa Bay Lightning game.
In a pregame segment, however, many viewers took notice of the way Coyne Schofield was treated by her male counterpart, NBC analyst Pierre McGuire.
“Tampa’s gonna be on your left, Pittsburgh’s gonna be on your right,” McGuire explained to Coyne Schofield during a pregame hit. “What are you expecting out of this game? We’re paying you to be an analyst, not to be a fan tonight.”
In a lengthy note posted on Twitter on Thursday afternoon, Coyne Schofield addressed the incident, which went viral. She said she has known McGuire “for years” and knows he “respects me as a hockey player, a woman, and a friend and that is why I didn’t think twice about our on-air exchange when it happened.”
However after receiving “countless messages” about the incident after the game, Coyne Schofiled said she went back and looked at the video.
“I understand why people would think it was inappropriate,” she wrote. “If I were watching it at home, and saw a man say this to a woman athlete, I would have been offended.”
Coyne Schofield went on to say she knew “how excited Pierre was for me and to be a part of this moment” although she wished “it came out differently.”
McGuire professed his “utmost respect” for Coyne Schofield in a statement issued on Thursday.
“I’ve known Kendall for years and have had the privilege of covering her as a member of Team USA at the past two Winter Olympics,” the statement read. “We were all thrilled to have her join our coverage last night, but at times my excitement got the better of me and I should have chosen my words better. I have the utmost respect for Kendall as a world-class player, analyst of the game, and role model.”
Ultimately, the discussion centered on questioning a woman’s hockey knowledge. Coyne Schofield wanted her new profile to share a message.
“What is important is for every young girl reading this to know that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of my hockey knowledge — because I do not doubt my hockey knowledge,” she wrote. “I didn’t need a gold medal to come to that conclusion. I needed belief in myself. That took time to build and I would never let someone else undo all of that work on the ice — and especially off.”
Coyne Schofield, 26, studied communications at Northeastern University and has previous experience as a sideline reporter for the Northeastern men’s hockey team. Her assignment on Wednesday included reporting from between the benches during the game, as well as intermission analysis.
Coyne Schofield posted a time of 14.346, which placed seventh out of a field that also included Connor McDavid, Cam Atkinson, Mathew Barzal, Jack Eichel, Miro Heiskanen, Clayton Keller and Elias Pettersson. Coyne finished ahead of Keller’s 14.526 seconds. McDavid won in 13.378, his third straight title in the event.
“Obviously I was a little nervous,” Coyne said afterward. “But I knew it was a moment that was going to break a lot of barriers and a moment that would change the perception of our game.”