As she has been used to for several years, Émilie Castonguay will be present in the draft of the National Hockey League which will be presented starting tomorrow evening at the Bell Center.
However, the Quebecer will not be in the stands with the players representing his former agency, but at the Vancouver Canucks table as deputy general manager. Whatever the title, the young woman knows the next two days will be exciting.
“It will be different than usual, but it will be the fun at the table, because no one knows what will happen, Castonguay said in a video conference on Wednesday. We have been working very hard for several months and hope to be able to claim the players on our roster. “
“When you are an agent, you have players who are recruited from different teams, while here is really the culmination of all the work we have done with our scouts. “
Since its appointment on January 24, the Castonguay newspaper has been anything but calm. It must be said that it is not exactly the work that is missing from the former Jyrki Lumme club.
The Canucks have missed the playoffs six times in the past seven seasons and, barring a hiccup during the unpredictable 2019-20 campaign, haven’t won a round since losing the Stanley Cup Finals to the Boston Bruins in 2011.
“I was hired before the agreement expired in March and most of the management had never worked together before. First we had to get to know each other and then quickly start evaluating the team, “said Castonguay.
“We also had to look at the contracts that were about to expire, prepare for the draft and get to know the recruiters… as we changed the culture we wanted to implement. It was a job that was built brick by brick. It never stops! “
The learning curve might seem steep for someone not gravitating to this environment, but the principal in question assures that his past had adequately prepared him for this challenge.
“I had no surprises as such, but being on the other side of the table gives me a new perspective,” said Castonguay. The priorities and challenges are not the same.
“As an agent, you always want to get the best deal for your clients, but as a team, the problems are obviously completely different. Being an agent allows me to know the process and above all to put everything in perspective. “
Castonguay’s arrival also took place in a particular context, since she did not join an existing team. The Canucks had really crossed the list before hiring veteran Jim Rutherford as president of hockey operations. Then came general manager Patrick Allvin, Rutherford’s former assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and deputy general manager Cammi Granato, a former player.
“Jim is great. He lets us do our job and supports our every decision and idea. His strength is to use his experience to lead us to always think further, Castonguay said. We are building something special. “
Castonguay’s appointment attracted a lot of interest in January, as no women held such positions in the National Hockey League at the time. Since then, Cammi Granato (Canucks), Meghan Hunter (Chicago Blackhawks), Hayley Wickenheiser (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Kate Madigan (New Jersey Devils) have joined her.
“I think I was the first domino to fall to break the glass ceiling,” said Castonguay. There are many women qualified to fill these positions and all the better if my hiring has opened the doors to others. That said, all the credit goes to Jim.
“But honestly, I’m looking forward to another call. I understand this is a must, but I always thought it was just about hiring competent people. “
Speaking of other calls, the free agent market will open next week. With just over $ 2 million at the time of this writing, Canucks will need to be creative to reverse the trend of the past few years.