It has become abundantly obvious that there are not enough women in front office roles across the professional sports world. Despite the rise of women’s sport and the consistent increase in popularity, many women have had a tough time landing executive positions within sports organizations.
However, on Wednesday American women’s hockey star Amanda Kessel took an important step in her dream to work in an NHL front office. She announced that she has joined the Pittsburgh Penguins’ new executive management program that will help her develop the skills required to work in management.
“The Penguins presented me with the opportunity to use my experience and love for hockey in a whole new capacity and I look forward to making the most of this program,” Kessel said in a statement, via The Toronto Star.
Former United States women’s hockey star and Hockey Hall of Fame member Cammi Granato is a great example of someone who was able to make the transition from being a top player to being an executive. Along with former agent Émilie Castonguay, Granato is an assistant general manager with the Vancouver Canucks.
“The Penguins have always taken the lead in innovation, and this is an example of us looking ahead as an organization to drive diversity and inclusion in the National Hockey League,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said, via The Toronto Star. “Our new executive management program gives unprecedented access to women and minorities to attain permanent, front office executive positions in hockey and other professional sports.”
The 30-year-old has represented the United States in the past three consecutive winter Olympics, helping them win a gold medal in 2018 and two silver medals in 2014 and 2022. The Penguins organization is one that she is awfully familiar with as well, considering her brother Phil Kessel won two Stanley Cups during his time in Pittsburgh with the Penguins.
She had made it clear how important the city was for her and her family at a recent Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association event being held in Pittsburgh. While she had yet to join the organization, she made it known that Granato had been a big inspiration for her.
“If there’s a way, any place you want to stay in the game, and especially at the National Hockey League level, that’s kind of everybody’s dream,” Kessel told The Associated Press. “We didn’t see those opportunities or it was more of a dream, but now it’s a reality for a bunch, and it kind of paves the way for the rest of us, knowing that if you’re not playing there are other avenues to still stay in the game. And that’s huge for us. It’s people like Cammi that are paving the way and hopefully following in her footsteps.”
It remains to be seen whether the program will prove to be a successful one and whether we will ever see Kessel in an executive role for a front office in the NHL. However, there is no denying that it is a sign of progress and a step in the right direction to having more women holding important positions across the NHL and other professional sports leagues.