Granato on path to Canucks discord: ‘It won’t happen overnight’

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For Vancouver Canucks assistant general manager Cammi Granato, his career has often carried a special word alongside his accomplishments: first.

Granato captained the first-ever women’s hockey team to win an Olympic gold medal in 1998 with the United States, the first female inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame (along with Canadian Angela James) in 2010 and the first woman to become a professional scout in the NHL when she joined the Seattle Kraken in 2019 in preparation for their league expansion.

And when Granato was hired by Vancouver in February 2022, she joined former agent Émilie Castonguay (as well as Derek Clancey) as one of the team’s three assistant general managers, and became a member of the very first NHL front office to have two assistants. GM.

“It was something I could never say no to,” Granato said in an exclusive interview with Daily Hive about joining the Canucks. “When the opportunity came, it was something I knew I couldn’t pass up. I felt that my experience with [Seattle] had been really great up to that point and really enjoyed playing a role in the NHL. For a woman in a sport where you were always trying to prove yourself all the time, I just didn’t think there were that many opportunities in the NHL to get hired.

Granato now oversees the team‘s scouting department, though she admits that’s not the only corner of the franchise she deals with.

“When you’re in a leadership role, everything in the organization kind of ends up in your office, because every different branch of the organization sifts through that,” Granato said. “It’s not low-pressure work at all, but it’s exciting.”

When she’s at home in Vancouver, most workdays start out the same way: an alarm clock around 7 a.m., then, well, coordinating parenting duties with her husband Ray Ferraro for her two sons before her arrival at the rink around 9:15 a.m.

“Honestly, I feel like it’s a sprint some mornings to get to work, but I think a lot of people feel that way anyway,” Granato said. “I have to get my kids out and go to school before I start. So it’s either organizing the carpools and who does what, preparing the children and taking care of my dog.

But once Granato is in the office, well, that’s almost never typical.

“You never know what to expect, actually,” Granato added. “There are the things that you do on a regular basis. For me, [it’s running] the scouting department, player development stuff or checking scouting reports. But there are always other things going on, whether it’s an injury you need to discuss or something with the salary cap. Or if you’re getting closer to the trade deadline, or if you’re getting closer to some kind of deadline, we talk about it.

Management, of course, has been a fickle thing for Canucks fans over the past decade.

The team has finished fifth or worse in the Pacific Division in six of the last seven seasons, with a long list of long-term contracts and draft picks that most fans would probably like to see again. A long-promised rebuild never really materialized, with the team’s only playoff appearance since 2015 coming in the 2019-20 season.

Push came to blows in December of last year, with the Canucks replacing nearly every key player on their management team, including the firing of longtime GM and coach combo Jim Benning and Travis Green.

“I’ve lived in Vancouver for 20 years, so I know the market well,” Granato said. “I know how passionate everyone is and how badly they really want to win and, and knowing that…we’re obviously trying to build a championship team.”

Granato admits that despite some success last season (a 0.649 point percentage in Bruce Boudreau’s 57 games behind the bench), there’s still a lot of work to do before it’s possible to call the Canucks a contender.

“Right now, he is implementing our vision. And it takes a little time. It won’t happen overnight, because you have a vision, but then you have to achieve it,” Granato added. “It’s not something you can just snap your fingers and then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Okay, well, we’re ready to win a championship.’ I feel like we’re headed in the right direction with our vision and I’m really excited to be a part of this whole organization.

Granato’s first offseason with the Canucks also offered him the chance to give back through the Cammi Granato showcase series women’s hockey tournaments, the most recent of which was held at Canlan Ice Sports in Toronto by Canlan Classic Tournaments brand.

“There was no ‘women’s hockey’ when I was younger,” Granato said. “I played with the boys until it was college at 18… It’s so important for young girls to have opportunities. It was obvious to me [to be involved with this tournament series].”

Since 2021, Granato has held similar events in Chicago, with plans to make the showcase an annual event, as well as adding an event in Vancouver. His next tournament will be in Chicago this fall from November 25-27.

“There are hundreds of confident girls walking through the halls [of the arena],” she said. “And I was just like, ‘It’s so awesome to see this change from when I was younger.'”

Granato added that there is a much clearer path to high profile success in the women’s game than when she was playing.

“It’s just about having the same opportunities for women in sport as boys,” Granato said. “And I think we’re there in some ways, but I think when you go up to the higher levels there’s a big debate about what’s good when people don’t watch women’s sports.

“It’s kind of being shattered – that view is being shattered – now and it’s been proven that millions of people actually watch women’s sports and people show up to games and crowds sold out and so I think those things are really important.”


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