It is a new era for the Vancouver Canucks.
Over the past week, the Canucks have made two very good hires. The first was Rachel Doerrie who was hired as an analyst for their analytics department on Friday. On Monday, it was announced the Canucks hired Émilie Castonguay as an Assistant General Manager.
Castonguay became the first female Assistant GM in Canucks history and the second woman to hold that title in NHL history since Angela Gorgone was an Assistant GM for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the 1996-97 season.
Both Doerrie and Castonguay have experienced hockey backgrounds.
Doerrie was hired by the New Jersey Devils at the age of 21 and she worked with them as an analyst, player information and video. She has also worked as video coach for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, Director of Advanced Performance for York University, (where she has a Masters Degree in sports science and analytics.) hosted the Staff and Graph Podcast and wrote articles for The Athletic and Elite Prospects.
Castonguay has been a player agent for years and has represented the likes of Alexis Lafrenière and former Canuck Antoine Roussel. Thanks to her, Roussel received a pretty big payday.
It looks like contract negotiations and cap management are included in Castoguay’s duties as Assistant GM.
Castonguay played four years of NCAA Division 1 Hockey with Niagara University. There, she graduated with a finance degree in 2009. After that, she interned with the Montreal Canadiens where she was mentored by former Habs GM Pierre Gauthier. Castonguay attended l’Université de Montréal after her intership with the Canadiens and she graduated with a law degree in 2012. She is also a member of the Quebec Bar Association.
Castonguay talked about the impact she is making as a woman working for an NHL team.
“It’s a historic day,” she said. “It goes to show that women have a place in sports and in hockey. Sometimes, as a woman, you get intimidated but you shouldn’t, if you have the knowledge and you’ve done the work, there is a place for you here. Hopefully, this is the start of more women getting jobs in sports and hockey particularly.”
There aren’t a lot of women in NHL front offices (Though Cammi Granato with the Seattle Kraken comes to mind.) and let’s hope Castonguay isn’t the last one in a management position.
In a male-dominated sport, Castonguay has already become a pioneer and sooner or later more women will be hired for management positions in the NHL.
Canucks President of Hockey Operations and Interim GM Jim Rutherford has many years of experience in the NHL. However, Rutherford belongs to a category that has been called the “old boys club.” That describes old men who work in hockey who refuse to change and adapt to the modern game.
However, Rutherford made it clear in his introductory press conference back in December that there needed to be diversity in the Canucks front office.
“Our society is changing all the time, and I would like to see a more diverse staff if possible,” he said.
It’s great to see Rutherford stray away from the old boys club and hire smart and progressive minds such as Doerrie and Castonguay.
Hockey culture has been dominated by the old boys club and needs to change. Castonguay made it clear in her introductory press conference that the culture needs to change in the Canucks organization.
“We’re changing the culture here in Vancouver and with this team,” said Castonguay. “Culture doesn’t change overnight. But we want to be a place where players feel like they’re surrounded by good people and taken care of. We want players to want to be here.”
It turns out more women will be joining Doerrie and Castonguay in the Canucks front office.
As for the Canucks GM search, it looks like a decision will be made this week.
The hirings of Doerrie and Castonguay are the start of a new beginning for the Canucks. The game and the world is changing and they need to adapt or die just like Billy Beane (portrayed by Brad Pitt) in Moneyball.
This isn’t about being “woke” as some of you might comment. These hirings are great because they are competent and progressive-thinking. The Canucks cannot be stuck with the old boys club mentality because again, hockey is changing. These are also great moves for hockey in general because it is a way to grow the game.
The Canucks front office is starting to be filled with intelligent and diverse minds and there is hope that the glory days could be returning once again.