For the first time in two decades, the Vancouver Canucks won’t have John Garrett as colour commentator on their regional broadcasts next season.
Garrett leaves some big shoes to fill. The trio of Garrett, John Shorthouse, and Dan Murphy had become one of the most beloved broadcast teams in the NHL, with Garrett’s combination of folksy charm and eagle-eyed analysis playing a big role. There are few who could conceivably take his place.
One of those few is Ray Ferraro.
Multiple reports indicate that Ferraro will be stepping into Garrett’s shoes next season, with John Shannon reporting that it will only be for part of the Canucks’ schedule.
“My understanding…is that it's 25 home games to begin with and then potentially ten more on the road,” said Shannon. “I would assume that would reflect around his ESPN schedule.”
Ferraro is the lead colour commentator on ESPN/ABC, a job that sources indicate he will not be leaving in the foreseeable future. That limits how many games he can call for the Canucks, meaning they will need another colour commentator for the remaining schedule.
Adding Ferraro to the Canucks’ broadcasts makes a lot of sense. Ferraro is one of the best colour commentators in hockey, with a keen eye, a sharp mind, and a quick wit that should theoretically be a fit with the vibe of his future coworkers John Shorthouse and Dan Murphy.
In addition, Ferraro is local. He’s originally from Trail, B.C., and currently lives in Vancouver. He’s familiar with the market and the area and it’s a much more convenient commute than the traveling he does for ESPN/ABC.
There’s just one complication: his wife works for the Canucks.
Ferraro is married to Canucks assistant general manager Cammi Granato, whose portfolio includes overseeing both sides of the Canucks’ scouting department — professional and amateur scouting — and player development.
That is a potential conflict of interest. The Sportsnet broadcast, as much as it works tightly with the Canucks, is meant to be independent of the organization. Having a literal marriage between the broadcast and the team raises some concerns.
If the Canucks struggle next season, will Ferraro be as critical of the team and their decision-making knowing that his wife was part of those decisions? Would he comment on draft picks they made or their player development when that’s the area that Granato oversees?
Perhaps he would. Ferraro is a professional who doesn’t typically pull his punches. It’s possible he could compartmentalize and call games exactly the way he would without a familial connection to the team.
The other question is whether anyone actually cares.
Hockey is an insular world, with NHL teams and broadcast crews both staffing their front offices full of former players. Colour commentators are almost always former players, who would have friends, former teammates, and family members on teams across the NHL.
When Ferraro called a game that included his son, Landon Ferraro, it was celebrated as a great moment. And really, it was. But that feels a little bit different compared to a commentator regularly covering a team his wife works for.
It’s an unusual situation because women have so rarely been given the opportunity to work in hockey, whether on the team or broadcast side of the table. But it’s not entirely unprecedented.
Cassie Campbell-Pascall works as an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada and ESPN. She’s also married to Brad Pascall, who is the assistant general manager of the Calgary Flames, which raises the same questions about a conflict of interest as Ferraro potentially working the Canucks broadcasts.
But calling the occasional game for a national broadcast isn't the same as calling a significant portion of a team's season on a regional broadcast.
Many hockey fans might see no issue with this whatsoever. Sports is entertainment and a colour commentator isn’t a journalist — many fans even expect the broadcast team to be biased towards the home team and to see the team through rose-coloured lenses. Maybe it’s a non-issue.
But there’s something amiss with a beloved commentator in Garrett stepping aside to be replaced by the husband of a team employee. It's likely just a coincidence — Ferraro is one of the best in the business and at the top of a lot of Canucks fans' wish lists for a colour commentator — but it's not the best optics.