The Florida Panthers had an extensive interview process before deciding on Bill Zito as the club's new general manager. From former New York Islanders GM Garth Snow to NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes, multiple candidates were considered during the Panthers' broad search.
Another candidate that was on the Panthers' radar? Hall of Famer and Olympic gold medallist Angela Ruggiero.
“During their search, the Panthers contacted four-time U.S. Olympian and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Angela Ruggiero and asked her if she wanted to interview," Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported during Saturday's Headlines on Hockey Night in Canada.
Ruggiero, 40, is currently the CEO and co-founder of Sports Innovation Lab. Friedman reports that Ruggiero asked for a few days to consider the interview opportunity.
"By the time she got back and told the Florida Panthers she did want to interview, they had gone ahead with the decision to hire Bill Zito," Friedman said.
A four-time World Championship gold medallist, Ruggiero has also made several firsts for women in hockey, including being the first woman to actively play in a regular season professional hockey game at a position other than goalie in the United States.
She was named Best Defenceman twice at the Olympics and four times at the World Championships. In 2004, she was ranked as one of top 16 female athletes in the world by ESPN.
Ruggiero was a member of the International Olympic Committee from 2010-18 and held the position as chairman of the IOC Athletes' Commission from 2016 to 2018. She also has experience working in NHL front offices.
"About 13 years ago she spent time in the business operations of the New York Islanders and since went back to get an MBA from Harvard," Friedman said.
Although the timing didn't work out for the Panthers position, Ruggiero's interest has been piqued for other front office positions in the NHL.
"This has kind of piqued her desire to get back into the sport and be a member of a front office and pursue these kind of jobs so I think we might hear her name again sometime in the future for potential openings around the league," Friedman said.