Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Cammi Granato makes a name for herself

Why is Cammi Granato arguably the best female hockey player in the nation?

Well, her brother Tony retired last year from the NHL, where he spent numerous seasons with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks.

Her brother Don coached the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers to a national championship in the team’s second year of existence. The next season, he won it again.

Her brother Rob won two state championships for his high school team in Minnesota and played two years with the Madison Capitols of the USHL, finishing second in career points and tied for first with career assists in the history of that team.

Her parents, Don and Natalie, went to a Chicago Blackhawks game on their first date.

Seems like hockey runs in the family.

So it makes perfect sense that for Cammi Granato, the family’s second daughter, hockey is her lifeblood. Her parents used to flood the backyard every winter to make an ice rink so Cammi and her friends could play hockey with her brothers and sisters. They would often reenact the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” game between the United States and Soviet Union.

She wanted to play organized hockey as a kid, but there were no girls’ leagues in the Chicago area. Instead, she joined a boys’ league and continued to play through high school and college.

Looking at her achievements, one can well say that she has held her family’s hockey legacy strong.

In her four-year college career at Providence College, she racked up 139 goals and 256 total points (both are school records), as well as 117 assists, and was named player of the year three times by her league. She also won rookie of the year honors as a freshman.

Granato is the U.S. women’s hockey program’s all-time leading scorer with 249 total points, comprised of 129 goals and 120 assists. She is also the all-time leading U.S. scorer at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship with 72 points.

At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Granato contributed at least one point in four of the six games her team played on the road to the gold medal, including a pair of two-goal outings against China and Canada.

She was chosen to be the U.S. flag bearer for the closing ceremony in 1998 and briefly carried the Olympic torch at the Salt Lake City Games opening ceremony alongside U.S. downhill skier Picabo Street.

“It’s incredible what she’s meant to hockey,” said New York Islanders’ general manager Mike Milbury, who invited Granato to the Islanders training camp in 1997, an offer she later declined. “She’s given hockey a profile [in the United States] more than good men’s players have been able to.”

Think Granato’s skills have only been noticed by the hockey world? Think again. The American has even been on a box of Wheaties.

Coming into this year’s Winter Games in Salt Lake City, the 30-year-old forward and native of Downers Grove, Ill., is more fired up than ever to play in front of the home crowd.

“It’s really special for me,” Granato said. “A lot of my relatives have never gotten to see me wear the USA jersey in person. I’m so excited.”

Granato has plenty of reason to be excited. In Team USA’s 10-0 blowout of Germany Tuesday, Granato tallied a goal, an assist and a +3 plus/minus rating.

Her continuous offensive production and tough presence in the neutral zone will make her a force to be reckoned with this February and are a big reason that many are calling Team USA favorites for another goal-medal run.

Whatever the outcome for the Americans at this year’s Games, however, it may be Granato’s last stint with Team USA. She has hinted at retiring from Olympic hockey after the Salt Lake City Games.

“I hate to say I’m retiring the day after the Olympics,” Granato said. “Last time in Japan I thought it was done. I just felt that was it. I really enjoy playing right now. We’ll see.”

Retirement from playing hockey definitely wouldn’t mean she would leave the game behind. Cammi, along with her brother Tony, runs a youth hockey camp for girls in Plainfield, Ill., that gets considerable national recognition. Cammi has also aroused speculation about a possibly coaching here at UW, where Tony, Rob and Don all played as captains for coach Jeff Sauer.

Perhaps Cammi Granato’s greatest impact on the sport of hockey is her success in showing the world that yes, women can play hockey.

“Their speed, their ability, their overall skating, their quickness — it’s all grown a lot,” Tony said. “Women’s hockey is getting better and better.”

It all comes from the passion and excitement Cammi Granato has brought to the sport of hockey. Or shall we say, it all comes from the family.

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