Blackhawks’ front-office changes begin with departures of Mark Kelley, Ryan Stewart

Kelley, the Hawks’ longtime scouting director, and Stewart, one of their two remaining assistant GMs, are gone as new GM Kyle Davidson begins restructuring the organization.

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Ryan Stewart, seen here with the 2015 Stanley Cup, is one of two high-ranking front-office members who left the Blackhawks on Friday.

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New Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson isn’t waiting long to restructure the front office.

Two of the highest-ranking members of the hockey-operations department — Ryan Stewart, the assistant GM who headed pro scouting, and Mark Kelley, the longtime amateur scouting director — were let go Friday by the Hawks, according to a team memo.

Mike Donaghey, the Hawks’ director of player personnel, will now oversee amateur scouting on an interim basis, while the Hawks’ pro scouts will temporarily report directly to Davidson.

Their departures — which came three days after Davidson was named permanent GM — pave the way for Davidson to overhaul the people and perspectives that form his inner circle and foreshadow more departures.

But most of all, the moves again shake up a front office that barely changed for years under Stan Bowman but has lost a ton of well-known faces in the last two years.


Mark Kelley (right) had been the Hawks’ longtime amateur scouting director.

AP Photos

Kelley had been a staple of Hawks drafts since 2008, operating as the leader and public face of the team’s wide-ranging network of scouts. Although highly successful head European scout Mats Hallin presumably remains with the team, Kelley’s exit translates into a harsh review of the Hawks’ recent draft classes, which have been hit-or-miss in the first and second rounds and mostly fruitless in later rounds. 

Stewart was promoted to assistant GM alongside Davidson and Mark Eaton in November 2020 after rising up the organizational ladder steadily since 2006. He had overseen pro scouting, another area in which Davidson likely determined the Hawks had underperformed recently.

With the trade deadline — arguably the most important time for pro -scouting — just over two weeks away and the draft about four months off, the Hawks will need to pivot quickly in both regards.

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