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Breaking Down Barriers

by Andrew Howard / Los Angeles Kings
U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Cammi Granato reflects on Sherry Ross' accomplishment, her time time with the Kings and...oh yeah, the Olympics.

Last week, Sherry Ross made history by becoming the first woman to call play-by-play for the broadcast a full 60-minute NHL game. And if there were anyone who could best understand the emotions Ross felt, it might be Cammi Granato.

Granato, a former radio color commentator for the Los Angeles Kings, became the second female broadcaster in NHL history when she partnered with current Kings radio play-by-play man Nick Nickson for the 1998-99 season.

"It was really humbling," said Granato of her experience. "It is 100 times harder than playing and I had a whole new respect for what they did."

Granato had just come off winning a Gold Medal with the USA women's ice hockey team at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, an experience she believes was truly ground-breaking.

"It brought creditability and changed the whole face of the sport," Granato said.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, the team will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony and dinner in Boston.

Yet Granato, the captain of the team, will not be in attendance because she and her husband, former King Ray Ferraro, are expecting their second child. While she cannot be there with her former teammates, she expressed how proud she was of what they were able to accomplish.

"It's awesome," Granato said. "It's just another way to show how far our sport has come."

Another example of how far the sport of hockey has come is what Ross accomplished last week.

Ross, a radio analyst for the New Jersey Devils for the last two seasons, took over for play-by-play announcer Matt Loughlin when Loughlin was forced to miss the game due to the death of his father-in-law.

"First of all, its a great accomplishment," Granato said. "Anyone who can do both play-by-play and color is a feat itself. To be the first woman to do so she is breaking down barriers because many people thought women couldn't do it.

"It's awesome. She's a trailblazer."

Granato has a personal connection with Ross.

When Granato got the job as the color commentator on the radio for the Kings, Ross sent her a message to congratulate her, something Granato felt was tremendously special.

For Granato, her time with the Kings was a bit hectic as there was a great amount of surrounding media her, since she was just the second woman to broadcast an NHL game, it was a news story wherever she went.

As Granato said, it was much different from playing where she could prove her detractors wrong with her play on the ice. But she emphasized how patient Nickson was with her as she went through some bumps and bruises while learning her craft and how supportive the Kings were.

"The Kings couldnt have been a better organization," Granato said of her time in LA.

While winning a gold medal and becoming an example for women looking to continue to break down barriers are certainly highlights, there is another one that Granato will not soon forget.

At a charity event with the Malibu Heat, Granato had the opportunity to play on a line with former Kings great Wayne Gretzky.

It doesn't get much better than that.

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