Cammi Granato has been watching the Vancouver Canucks for years.
As a pro scout for the Seattle Kraken — the first female scout in NHL history — she spent ample time in the press box at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, sussing out talent for the league’s newest team.
Now she’ll be watching with a new view. The Canucks named Granato assistant general manager on Thursday.
“I’m very, very excited to take on this role,” she said on a video call Thursday.
Granato captained the U.S. team that beat Canada to win gold at the ‘98 Nagano Olympics. The native of Downers Grove, Ill., also won silver at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.
She remains the all-time leading scorer for the American women’s team with 343 points (186 goals and 157 assists).
In 2010, Granato and Canadian Angela James became the first women to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“Cammi is a tremendous leader and has earned the respect of the hockey world. She has a great mind for the game and experience and influence at all levels,” Jim Rutherford, the Canucks president of hockey operations, said in a statement.
As assistant GM, Granato will oversee Vancouver’s player development department and its amateur and pro scouting department.
It’s a job she feels prepared for after three years of scouting for the Kraken.
“One of the things that I had said coming in here is I haven’t done this job before but I have great people surrounding me, I have a lot of experience in the game and definitely the experience with Seattle has helped me prepare,” she said.
Granato, 50, joins a Canucks front office that has been entirely revamped since former general manager Jim Benning, head coach Travis Green and several other staff were fired in early December.
Rutherford was named president of hockey operations soon after. He has hired former Penguins assistant general manger Patrik Allvin as GM and former scout Derek Clancey and former player agent Emilie Castonguay as assistant GMs.
There’s certainly reason to celebrate joining an NHL front office where there are two women on the management team, Granato said.
“For sure it’s a big day to have two women in management on one team. It just goes to show Jim’s vision to sort of diversify, get different voices, get different people’s experience and draw them together,” she said.
“Maybe this conversation will change and in 10 years it won’t be a big deal or five years it won’t be a big deal when other teams follow suit.”
Granato believes she and Castonguay won’t be anomalies for long. She expects more women to join teams around the league soon.
“You can now look at the position of someone who’s qualified and not just think it’s a man’s role,” she said. “There’s women that are qualified, there’s players that will come out of these Olympics that will retire and be able to be in roles in the NHL. I do think that you’ll see more of it. I think it’s an exciting time.”
It’s an exciting time for the Canucks, too, Granato said.
After a dismal start to the season, Vancouver is working its way back into the playoff picture, sitting six points out of a post-season berth with a 21-21-6 record.
“We have a nice base of young, skilled players and I think our job is to build a championship team and that’s what we’re going to be focusing on,” Granato said.
The Canucks wrap a three-game homestand on Saturday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
—Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press