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Growing up Granato: Sabres coach Don and gold medalist Cammi on their hockey family

Don and Cammi Granato share how growing up Granato shaped them into the hockey family they are today, between dropping the gloves and strong values.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — When the Buffalo Sabres wrap up a four-game road trip on Thursday night in Seattle, it will be a family feud.

Sabres head coach Don Granato will take on the NHL's newest team, the Seattle Kraken, where his sister, Cammi Granato, became the league's second female scout.

It won't be the first time the Granato family has had a scuffle.

"It was a lot of chaos because there were six of us," Cammi said about the family's upbringing.

With six kids growing up in a passionate Italian household, sometimes the gloves were dropped.

In an interview with 2 On Your Side's Julianne Pelusi, Cammi recalled a fight between her brothers -- Sabres head coach Don, and the head coach of the University of Wisconsin men's hockey head coach, Tony.

"They were at the top of this that basement stairs, and I could hear my mom yelling like, 'Shut the basement or you guys are gonna fall down the stairs,' " Cammi said.

"I don't know what they're fighting about. They're they're yelling at each other, and the next thing you know they're wrestling. ... Then my mom's trying to get the door shut, and sure enough, boys go flying, rolling down the entire staircase. And they hit the bottom. I think they might have just ended it after that."

"Brothers, right?" Cammi laughed at the end of the story, now the mother of two boys of her own, Riley and Reese.

While her two brothers have found success in their hockey careers, they're both missing something younger sister Cammi has: an Olympic gold medal.

The Granato party of eight gets a big assist in shaping her Hockey Hall of Fame career.

"I feel incredibly lucky to have grown up the way I did. We were a team. We were really close. We were each other's playmates. We were each other's advocates, support system. We pushed each other," Cammi said.

"We didn't know we were doing all that, but looking back, that's what it was."

Their parents, Don and Natalie Granato, carefully constructed a moral code, just leading by example.

"There always seemed to be some sort of structures, and system of values and codes by which we live by, and we couldn't write it down," Don said. "There was more of a sense and a great compass, rather than a map."

Added Cammi: "It's not like I remember them saying a set of rules. ... It was a controlled chaos in a way. Like, we knew how to behave. We knew how to treat other people."

That code and the chaos became the foundation for a head coach.

"He was a coach before he even knew he was a coach. He was coaching us when he was 10 years old," Cammi said about Don.

"He just had it in them to like, be that guy for the family who just had the right thing to say or the best perspective on things. And I think the way he coaches is he's got like an emotional intelligence that's like crazy."

Don's emotional intelligence blossomed from a big brother, Tony, who could push him around.

"When you had an older brother that played in the NHL for a long time, very successful, very talented athlete, a great brother, but I didn't know he actually cared about me until I was about 16. I hated him and he hated me, it seemed," Don said.

"He taught me a lot of lessons, and I guess there's lots of big ones, but just how to be competitive... we're playing in the basement or backyard... I got to figure out a way to combat this... that became actually a lot of fun to try to figure that out. And I had to fight for something."

When Don and Tony put the gloves back on, the relationship blossomed too.

Tony and the rest of the Granatos dropped everything to be there for Don while he battled two life-threatening health scares.

"I remember telling my brother you got to go home to your family," Don recalled.

His sister was proud of his perseverance and said, "He beats he beats all odds and everything, even when he's like the underdog."

She has that same confidence in her brother watching him become an NHL head coach.

"Of course, as a sister, you want him to do so well, but his take on everything is so positive that you're like, 'OK, he's going to be great, no matter what.' Like, he's just going to do his best," Cammi said.

But does she want Don to be his best when the Sabres and the Kraken clash?

"I don't have an answer," Cammi said. "I think it's any answer I give is not going to be the right one, on one or the other sides, so I'm just going to say I'd like to leave it at that."

That's the Granatos.

Be the best you can be for each other. Root for each other. But the competitive nature never dies.

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