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Whitefish Bay’s Zito, former Brewers boy, leads Florida to Stanley Cup

Whitefish Bay’s Zito, former Brewers boy, leads Florida to Stanley Cup

Whitefish Bay’s Zito, former Brewers boy, leads Florida to Stanley Cup

Bill Zito, president of hockey operations for the Florida Panthers, watched his team win its first NHL championship Monday with a 2-1 victory over Edmonton in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and there were certainly some interested spectators in his hometown. from Whitefish Bay.

Zito, 59, who also happened to be a bat boy for the Milwaukee Brewers since 1982, was one of the driving forces behind back-to-back Finals appearances. Now, the franchise that was launched in 1993-94 has its first Stanley Cup.

Zito played hockey at the University School of Milwaukee during high school, but also had a heart for baseball. He got the opportunity to serve as a bat boy after befriending the daughters of Brewers general manager Harry Dalton, and he happened to be on the job during the franchise’s only World Series appearance.

Dalton encouraged Zito to enter the scouting world.

“He was very kind to me and gave me a lot of good advice,” Zito recalled of Dalton last year when he threw out the first pitch at a Brewers game. “They’d say, ‘You’re not going to play in the big leagues, why don’t you stay in the game and scout?’ I said, I know more about hockey. He said, “I remember the conversations, you can’t know more about hockey. I’m here every day (I hear you talking about baseball). He really encouraged me and helped explain a lot about why Scouting is so important. He was just a wonderful, kind and very intelligent guy.”

“He was a good guy, a great kid, hard worker,” Brewers manager Tony Migliacco said. “He was good at sports, a pretty good hockey player for USM and that sport definitely stood him in good stead… It was a smaller group of club chaps back then, also younger back then. The staff was smaller, but it was more of an intimate group. .”

After the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals last year, Zito earned a promotion and an extension with the franchise. Zito’s boldest move was crafting a trade for Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk and signing him to an eight-year extension before 2023, and Zito also gets credit for the massive waiver claim of defenseman Gustav Forsling (which later received its own massive expansion). traded 2024 leading scorer Sam Reinhart, center Carter Verhaeghe and head coach Paul Maurice.