Alexandra Mandrycky Marks 6th Woman Promoted to Assistant GM in Historic Year for NHL

(Image via NHL)

Last week, the Seattle Kraken promoted Alexandra Mandrycky, the club’s former Director of Hockey Strategy and Research, to the position of Assistant General Manager. Mandrycky highlights a barrier-breaking year in which six women have been promoted to Assistant GM positions across the league.

Mandrycky’s roots are in analytics, making her the first female Assistant GM to specialize in this area. Mandrycky broke into hockey with the Minnesota Wild as a hockey operations analyst in 2015. She was also a key part of War On Ice, one of the first publicly available NHL analytics databases (co-founded by Sam Ventura, current Vice President of Hockey Strategy and Research with the Buffalo Sabres).[1]

Mandrycky was one of the Seattle Kraken’s first organizational hires upon expansion, and began with the team as Director of Hockey Administration. Now, Mandrycky oversees an analytics department of four other individuals, a group that Mandrycky expects to grow as a result of her new role. Her promotion signifies not only a tremendous achievement for women in hockey (and sports, in general), but also an increased acceptance of and reliance on analytics at the management level.

Only one woman had ever served as an Assistant GM in the NHL prior to 2022, and it took nearly three decades for this current wave of promotions to change that. “Hockey culture” has been closely examined over the past several years, and is often scrutinized for being a bit of an old boys’ club. One effective way to combat this is to ensure that women are in leadership positions throughout the NHL, and that their voices are not only heard, but a critical part of the decision-making equation.

Angela Gorgone became the NHL’s first female Assistant General Manager in 1996, with the then-Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.[2] Gorgone spent three more years in hockey, between Anaheim and Nashville, and the NHL went without a woman being elevated to the role of Assistant GM until this year.

Émilie Castonguay – Vancouver Canucks

Enter: Émilie Castonguay. The Vancouver Canucks hired Castonguay in January, making her just the second female Assistant General Manager in NHL history. Castonguay was already familiar with breaking barriers, as she became the NHLPA’s first certified female agent in 2016. On the NHL side, Castonguay most notably represented 2020 first overall draft pick, Alexis Lafrèniere; she also represented women’s hockey great, Marie-Philip Poulin.

Team president Jim Rutherford noted that “she will play a lead role in player contracts and negotiation, managing the collective bargaining agreement, and her voice will be heard in all aspects of hockey operations.”[3]

Cammi Granato – Vancouver Canucks

Shortly thereafter, the Canucks added another one of the most accomplished figures in hockey history to their leadership group. Cammi Granato, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, the first woman inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and the all-time leading point scorer in women’s international hockey at the time of retirement, was also named as an Assistant General Manager.[4] Granato was previously working with the Seattle Kraken, where she became the first female scout in NHL history.[5]

Rutherford added that Granato will oversee the Canucks’ amateur and pro scouting, as well as the team’s player development department. “Cammi’s input will also be included in all areas of hockey operations as we leverage the diverse opinions and experience of our new leadership group to build a winning team.”

Granato discussed the evolution of employment in hockey for women, and even admitted “there were times that I didn’t think that was an option for women. It wasn’t something that I thought would happen in my lifetime because I’ve always been the one sort of in that age of ‘the first of things’ and sometimes those things don’t come.”4

Cammi is a part of the legendary Granato hockey family, which includes her brother, and current Buffalo Sabres head coach, Don Granato.

Meghan Hunter – Chicago Blackhawks  

Meghan Hunter was promoted to Assistant General Manager of the Chicago Blackhawks in June. Hunter, like Granato, worked as a scout for the organization, in addition to serving as director of hockey administration. Hunter was also a star college hockey player for the University of Wisconsin in the early 2000s.

According to Blackhawks GM Brandon Davidson, Hunter will be in charge of contracts, budgeting, and other departments.[6]

Hunter, too, expressed the importance of representation for women in hockey, saying “I remember coming out of college and I didn’t really see anybody that I knew in [the] NHL, females [working] in hockey operations, so I just naturally gravitated into coaching because that’s all I really thought was available at the time. I think more representation, the more females breaking in different angles is amazing.”[7]

Hayley Wickenheiser – Toronto Maple Leafs

Just weeks after Meghan Hunter assumed the position of Assistant GM of an Original Six franchise in Chicago, Hayley Wickenheiser did so with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wickenheiser is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of Canadian women’s hockey, amassing four consecutive Olympic gold medals, and earning a 2019 Hall of Fame induction.4

Wickenheiser joined the Leafs as an assistant director of player development, and was eventually promoted to senior director of the department, all while finishing her medical degree at the University of Calgary. Wickenheiser still remarkably practices medicine on top of her added responsibilities as Assistant GM.[8] The new role will remain focused on player development.[9]

Kate Madigan – New Jersey Devils

One day after the Wickenheiser announcement, the New Jersey Devils promoted Kate Madigan from Executive Director of Hockey Management/Operations to Assistant General Manager. Madigan took the least direct path of the bunch. Madigan earned a master’s degree in accounting and a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern University, and worked just two years as an accountant at Deloitte before transitioning into hockey.

Madigan spent another two years in the Devils’ video/player information department before being promoted to the role of Director of Pro Scouting Operations. Madigan “will serve as part of the small group that [GM Tom Fitzgerald] will lean on for key input, strategy, and decision-making, which includes roster construction at the pro and amateur levels, transactions, hockey personnel decisions, team operations, facilities management, budget, and as part of the team’s management travel party.”

These six women, along with the countless others climbing the ranks of the hockey world, are forging a path for future women to pursue careers at all levels of hockey. This hiring stretch marks a revolutionary period in the game of hockey, specifically in the NHL. Doors that were once seemingly closed are now wide open. The journeys of these women will inspire current and subsequent generations, and the world of hockey is better off as a result of their accomplishments.


Resources

[1] https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/34589700/alexandra-mandrycky-named-seattle-kraken-assistant-gm-becomes-sixth-woman-hired-role-nhl-offseason

[2] https://thehockeynews.com/news/how-angela-gorgone-became-the-nhl-s-first-female-assistant-gm

[3] https://theathletic.com/3511884/2022/01/24/canucks-hire-emilie-castonguay-as-assistant-general-manager-first-female-agm-in-team-history/

[4] https://apnews.com/article/nhl-sports-hockey-toronto-chicago-be9c9c1825ebc02ce630c75fe4a5b99e

[5] https://theathletic.com/3511255/2022/02/10/canucks-hire-hall-of-famer-cammi-granato-as-assistant-gm/

[6] https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/34132381/chicago-blackhawks-promote-meghan-hunter-making-fourth-woman-assistant-gm-nhl-history

[7] https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/kate-madigan-devils-assistant-general-manager-nhl-1.6511651

[8] https://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/hayley-wickenheiser-maple-leafs-assistant-gm-player-development-1.6510755

[9] https://www.thescore.com/nhl/news/2381771

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3L at University at Buffalo School of Law; BSELS Co-Vice President

MBA in Marketing;

In pursuit of a career at the intersection of sports law and sports business, specifically in professional hockey.

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