Making the National Hockey League’s Hall of Fame is a difficult process, but it probably wasn’t as hard for Cammi Granato as getting a significant job with a National Hockey League team. Although it’s more common these days to see women included in men’s sports – for example, women regularly referee NBA basketball games, a woman in an NHL job? That’s a rarity.
It’s also rare that, for the Seattle franchise scheduled to enter the league for the 2021-22 season, this hiring isn’t so rare. Hiring Granato continues a trend for the NHL’s newest team. They advertised as being “committed to a diverse slate of candidates for every role.” And, they obviously meant it. The franchise currently has about 60 employees; and, more than 50 percent of its vice presidents are females.
Hats off to Seattle general manager Ron Francis for thinking out of the box. In fact, thinking outside the box has been the organization’s ethos from the beginning.
As Francis notes, “When I was being interviewed, it was very apparent this organization was thinking outside the box. When I took the job, I was encouraged to continue that mantra: think outside the box. Cammi’s name came up. I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her résumé is why she got the job — not because she’s female.”
Because the NHL’s Seattle expansion team is just now being put together, Granato is not the only scout being brought onboard. The team also hired four other scouts – Ulf Samuelsson, Stu Barner, Dave Hunter, and John Goodwin. These men are all capable in their own right. The specifics on them include:
- Stu Barnes has served as a Dallas Stars assistant coach and, during his playing career, had stints in Winnipeg, Florida, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.
- John Goodwin has extensive coaching experience in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), including as head coach of the Oshawa Generals.
- Dave Hunter has a decade of pro and amateur scouting experience, including with the Carolina Hurricanes.
- Ulf Samuelsson had a strong career in the NHL that included winning two Stanley Cups. He was an assistant coach for three NHL teams and was the head coach for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL when both he and Francis worked with the Hurricanes.
Granato is confident she can do the job well. She believes: “I know the game, and I’m confident in that.” Granato added, “I’ve been around the game since I can walk. It’s really cool to be able to do it as a job and I’m looking forward to contributing my opinion.”
The 48-year-old Granato was a long-time member of the U.S. women’s national team and captained them to a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics. She was one of the first women to be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame (with Angela James) in 2010. In her 205 career games for the U.S. national team, Granato had 343 points (186 goals and 157 assists).
Granato will be based just up the highway from Seattle in Vancouver. As she noted, “I’ve had other NHL opportunities to get back into hockey. Seattle is the right fit for me and an exciting organization to join. It lined up as the perfect opportunity.”
Sadly, for Granato and women’s hockey, about the only time women’s hockey registers as important is for about a week during the Olympic Games. That said, naming Granato as a pro scout is a definite step forward for women and both for NHL hockey.
Granato is from a hockey family. Her older brother, Tony, played 13 seasons in the NHL. Her husband, Ray Ferraro, played 18 NHL seasons. It’s interesting that, until this point in time, Granato has probably been pushed to the shadows of her older brother and her husband. Wouldn’t it be interesting if, because of her hiring, we start saying about Tony “Isn’t that Cammi’s brother?” or about Ray “Isn’t that Cammi’s husband?”
Congratulations to the Seattle NHL expansion team for doing something so simple, yet remarkable. Certainly, Cammy Granato has earned her place in history as a hockey player. Now, we’ll see if she can earn her keep as an NHL scout.
Here at NHL Trade Talk, we salute the Seattle franchise for its forward-thinking. They made a great move. As a teacher, and a father of five children – four of them daughters – I’m very happy tonight. Personally, I’d like to see more of this kind of thinking in the NHL.
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