SEATTLE — Cammi Granato has received plenty of interest in the past from NHL franchises. None of them suited her as well as Seattle’s expansion team does.
The former U.S. Olympic team captain, gold medallist and Hockey Hall of Famer was hired Wednesday as one of five pro scouts for Seattle’s as-yet unnamed franchise that will begin play with the 2021-22 season.
"I’ve turned down a lot that I kind of wish I could have taken. But this one was perfect. It fit right," Granato said. "As soon as I heard Seattle was getting a team I had been interested. And (GM Ron Francis) reached out to me, I don’t know at what point but not too long ago, and asked about this position. It’s just really exciting and it fits really well with my current status, being so close and also being able to pro scout down the street."
Granato, who is based in Vancouver, British Columbia, joins a handful of women working on the hockey operations side of an NHL franchise and she is the only female pro scout currently in the league. Last year, Toronto hired Hayley Wickenheiser as assistant director of player development and Noelle Needham as an amateur scout.
"I think it’s just another way to break barriers, I guess. It’s another way to show the momentum that is happening in sport with women being hired in all different capacities. I think that’s how I view it," Granato said. "It’s more not just about myself but more women getting jobs that they’re actually qualified for but just haven’t been looked at before and now it might change the mind of people to look at that in a different way in the way Seattle has."
Francis said it was Granato’s accomplishments and her knowledge of the game that prompted him to make the offer.
"I think what is unique about our organization is we want to think outside the box, we want to think differently," Francis said. "I’m adamant in saying this, I did not hire Cammi Granato because she is a female. I hired Cammi Granato because of her resume. It’s outstanding. Her resume may be the best on that staff quite frankly."
Granato, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, made family a priority in turning down previous opportunities. She’s married to former NHL player and current broadcaster Ray Ferraro and she said his travel schedule during the season and the desire to be home with her kids made other job opportunities unfeasible.
But now she can combine her hockey knowledge with the ability to scout players in Vancouver and not have to spend countless hours on a plane.
"One of the things I love doing with family is we always talk about players and analyze players and debate players and so it’s really natural and I feel confident in that," Granato said. "The fact I’m new at it, I have a great staff around me that’s so experienced in the field that anyone I need to ask I’ve got somewhere there to bring me along if there are questions. It’s really exciting in that aspect."
Along with Granato, Seattle added former NHL players Stu Barnes and Ulf Samuelsson, both of whom worked as assistant coaches in the league following the end of their playing careers. John Goodwin and Dave Hunter round out the pro scouting staff.