US Olympic champ Granato named first female NHL pro scout

New York (AFP) –

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Cammi Granato became the first woman hired as a pro scout by a National Hockey League club on Wednesday when she joined the staff of Seattle's expansion team.

The new team, which will begin play in 2021, was created by the league last December as its 32nd club. Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis was named the team's general manager in July.

Granato, a forward, captained the US women to gold at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics, the first to include women's ice hockey.

"I've had other NHL opportunities to get back into hockey," Granato said. "Seattle is the right fit for me and an exciting organization to join. It lined up as the perfect opportunity."

The two-time Olympian, whose brother Tony played 13 NHL seasons and coached the Colorado Avalanche, played in every world championship from 1990-2005 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010.

Granato is among notable US sport women's barrier breakers that include Becky Hammon, an assistant coach for the NBA San Antonio Spurs who became the first full-time assistant coach in any major North American pro sports league, and the US Women's World Cup champion football team, whose fight for equal pay became a global outcry for equal rewards and opportunities.

"What a time in sports right now, seeing all sorts of ceilings shattered by women," Granato said. "If I can inspire someone to become a scout or work in an NHL front office, that's amazing."

Granato's husband is Ray Ferraro, whose 18 NHL seasons included seven alongside Francis with the NHL's Hartford Whalers, now the Hurricanes.

Others hired as scouts by the Seattle club, which has yet to select a nickname, included Swede Ulf Samuelsson, a 16-year NHL veteran who won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.