The Vancouver Canucks did a mildly remarkable thing by naming former Olympian Cammi Granato as their new assistant general manager—remarkable because she got the job after being the chief scout for the Seattle Kraken, and mildly because it isn’t the first time the Canucks hired a woman in the last three weeks. Granato is one of three assistant GMs in the Canucks’ brand new pyramid of overlords and the second woman, the other being former agent Emilie Castonguay, who was hired two and a half weeks ago. Both got the gigs by experience as well as expertise rather than by ticking off a box to get the owner off the hook the way they like to do things in the NFL (Castonguay represented 2020 first pick Alexis Lafreniere). Both she and Granato were hired by president of hockey ops Jim Rutherford, who has been in the game for 1,000 years and by rights would be one of the crusty old antiquarians who only listened to other crusty old antiquarians who tossed down gin-and-vodkas and shared stories of driving hundreds of times from Moose Jaw to Swift Current to watch some seventh-round draft choice who never got out of the International League. Turns out instead that he’s a 72-year-old hiring maverick with a haircut that could scrape barnacles off a boat and a brain that dances happily outside the metaphorical box.
At least we assume this is all Rutherford’s idea. Unless someone in the Aquilini family is telling him what to do (and that’s how he eventually came to quit his previous jobs), these are his calls. He has overturned the entire top level of management all the way down to head coach Bruce Boudreau, mostly because the Canucks have been stuck in Blahville Flats for most of the last decade, or since they last reached the Stanley Cup Final. In short, Rutherford hired with a more open mind than most because he has little enough to lose, and potentially much to gain.
But Granato’s circumstance is separate from Castonguay’s in one interesting way. Her husband Ray Ferraro, the former player and current TV analyst who has played and broadcast at one time or another for roughly 37 of the 32 teams, is also a well-respected pundit in the here’s-what-I-think-even-though-you-didn’t-ask-me world. He’s one of the guys you go to when you want to know why the Montreal Canadiens replaced coach Dominique Ducharme with a set of thighs. He is paid to Know Blurtable Stuff.
This of course means that if or when Rutherford decides that Quinn Hughes needs to be traded to the Arizona Coyotes for some god-forsaken reason, Ferraro must in his role of Stuff Knower For Hire either A) try and fail to get the inside dirt on the deal from Granato, which she clearly won’t do for ethical and/or professional media distrust reasons, or B) rip the organ-eye-zation for lack of vision, lack of return, or just general Canuckitude. This frankly seems like a sensational family argument in the making that ESPN and/or TSN must video and play for the nation. One clever debate with Elliotte Friedman, one misplaced remark about the Canucks’ decision-making structure, and the next thing you know, someone’s having their first post-work drink of the evening while watching their spouse rip them a new earhole on TV. Who doesn’t think that’s appointment viewing?
This is the modern front-office dynamic we’ve been craving, starting with the diversity that the NFL fears and the media relation dynamic that Rutherford will surely cackle over in quiet moments. Teams have always regarded the media as either necessary evils or just evils, but this is a new and creative level of get-back. To hear someone from a front office anywhere respond to a perfectly acceptable “I love you” with a terse “no comment” is exactly what the new world order is about. Even if all it results in “I’ll have (media relations guy) Chris Brumwell get in touch,” the Ferraro family dynamic is on the verge of becoming downright hilarious. Or at least it damned well should, if Jim Rutherford is half the big thinker and marital provocateur we want him to be.
Either way, whether the Canucks get on a roll or barrel-roll into Cathedral Peaks, we have a chance to get something most of us didn’t even know we needed to concern ourselves with—better hockey, or some potentially rancorous breakfasts at the Granato house. If nothing else, starting goaltender Thatcher Demko is about to learn what real pressure is.