By Meaghan Cahill ’20
Olympic gold medalist and former Providence College Women’s Hockey Team member Cammi Granato ’93 has been hired by the National Hockey League expansion team based in Seattle as the first female pro scout.
Team general manager Ron Francis said, “I know she’s a female pro scout for us, but her resume is why she got the job—not because she’s female.”
However, there is a lot of importance in the fact that Granato is a female.
As one of the handful of women working in the NHL, Granato’s new position signifies that the NHL is beginning to catch up to current times and solve the gender inequality that has had a daunting hold over professional sports for many years. The only difference between the NHL and other leagues is that the MLB, NBA, and NFL have already made attempts to close the gap between the male-to-female workers ratio.
As of 2018, the MLB has over 100 women working in baseball operations (front office and on-field jobs) and the NBA and NFL have hired woman to take on full-time coaching roles. And while it must be noted that no women has been hired as a full-time general manager or head coach, at least there has been acknowledgement from these three leagues that women are capable of working within both the game and with the athletes.
MLB chief diversity officer Renee Tirado said on the issue, “There’s no sugar-coating this. There’s a lot to do.”
The acknowledgement towards the lack of female presence in professional sports has been lost amongst the NHL it seems, considering that, of the four major pro leagues, they are the only league who has been reluctant to hire women. Of the 31 NHL teams, there is not a single female coach, assistant coach, general manager, or assistant general manager. Even within hockey operations there is a sparse amount of women working.
With that being said, Granato’s hiring might be an indication that the NHL is finally beginning to realize that they are very far behind not only the MLB, NFL, and NBA, but also society as a whole. In a league where many coaches, GMs, and AGMs are former professional players themselves, Granato’s hiring is opening doors to a vast amount of people—male and female alike—to find jobs in the NHL. Especially for women, Granato’s hiring is proof that outsiders of the NHL can know the game and do beneficial work within it.
On her new position, the first female Hockey Hall of Fame and United States Hockey Hall of Fame inductee said, “I know the game and I’m confident in that. I’ve been around the game since I could walk. It’s really cool to be able to do it as a job and I’m looking forward to contributing my opinion.”
Granato’s words and Francis’s comments on her extensive resume being the reason that she got the job demonstrates a solution to what has been the main argument for not hiring women to work for the NHL: that they do not know the game.
Gender issues aside, until recently it has been extremely difficult for non-NHL experienced players to break into the league. Even AHL coaches struggle to get a promotion. This is all changing. As of 2018, 14 of the 62 head coaches have never played in the NHL; the same goes for 13 of the 62 general managers.
Sports writer Lauren Kelly writes, “If there is a time for women to break into this area of the industry, it is now.”
Because, as with any sport, one does not need to play the game to know the game.