Meghan Hunter’s rapid ascent within Blackhawks continues with assistant GM promotion

Hunter, now sporting a new title, handles a dizzying array of duties — from managing the salary cap to assisting new players’ families — to keep the Hawks’ front office functional.

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Meghan Hunter handles a wide array of responsibilities as the Blackhawks’ new assistant GM of hockey operations.

Meghan Hunter handles a wide array of responsibilities as the Blackhawks’ new assistant GM of hockey operations.

Chicago Blackhawks Photos

Meghan Hunter’s dizzying array of job responsibilities isn’t the most conducive to work-life balance.

“It’s a lifestyle,” she said. “You wake up in the middle of the night when you need to write things down, or you email yourself so you’ll remember. Or if not, then you won’t sleep. Or you just don’t sleep [anyway] because it’s all on your mind.”

To the Blackhawks, however, Hunter’s ability to juggle them so well has made her an invaluable — if sleep-deprived — part of new general manager Kyle Davidson’s restructured front office.

Hunter was named the Hawks’ assistant general manager of hockey operations earlier this summer, having quickly climbed the ladder since coming aboard as ex-GM Stan Bowman’s executive assistant in 2016.

She claims it has been a “fairly seamless” transition from her previous role as director of hockey administration. But it does mean she supervises quite a few more staff members in addition to her other duties, of which the list is incredibly long.

Hunter manages the Hawks’ salary cap space and hockey operations budget, ensuring their roster is cap-compliant every day and that no transaction — trade, signing, call-up, injured reserve designation, etc. — changes that. She oversees and files the paperwork needed for each of those transactions. She serves as the primary liaison between the Hawks and the NHL office regarding those transactions.

If that weren’t enough, she also oversees team and player services and security — vague descriptions for tasks ranging from helping new players’ families find homes, cars, doctors and more in Chicago to creating emergency action plans for every arena the Hawks visit.

“I really enjoy that there’s so much diversity and [that] something is different every day, because I definitely never get bored,” she said. “I take detailed notes. I have lots of calendar reminders. I’ve been doing it for such a long time, multitasking and juggling several different things.”

Meghan Hunter is the Blackhawks’ new assistant general manager of hockey operations.

Meghan Hunter has risen quickly within the Blackhawks’ front office since joining in 2016.

Chicago Blackhawks Photos

So how does she do it?

“There’s a lot of people, a lot of hands on deck, making sure it happens,” she explained. “Day to day, especially through COVID and everything, things would change at a drop of a dime and you’d have to react to it.

“I’ll go to pregame skate and get a feel for what the injuries might be like, or who might be looking great throughout the week that you might want to try in a particular game. Then I have a conversation between Kyle, the associate GMs and myself where we analyze the next steps we want to do to get ready for the game. Once we know, it’s [about] putting everything in place and getting in touch with our travel logistics personnel, equipment personnel [and] medical personnel. It’s a collaboration across many departments. And then I just try to pull everything together at the end and make sure it’s submitted correctly.”

Her strong rapport with Davidson also helps. He followed a similar path through hockey operations positions (before becoming GM) that she has, and for much of their shared five years working under Bowman, their roles were so similar that they regularly worked together on transaction paperwork.

Even now, Davidson and Hunter talk regularly throughout each day. Hunter’s voice and input in major front-office decisions, including the earth-shaking trades the Hawks executed this summer, should not be overlooked.

“Not only do we work well together, but I consider [Kyle] a friend, too,” she said. “It’s very easy and comfortable to be able, if I have a question about something, to work it out and talk through everything. It’s just constant communication, constant open -dialogue about scenarios or potential things coming up.”

Hunter has taken on some amateur scouting duties, too, utilizing her connections with the OHL’s London Knights — her uncles, longtime NHL stars Dale and Mark Hunter, are Knights co-owners — and traveling around the Midwest to see in-person the prospects the Hawks will consider drafting into their rebuild.

The rebuild on which, by the way, she sees completely eye-to-eye with Davidson.

“It’s going to take a while,” she admitted. “You have to get good assets in the draft, and you’ve got to get them in the first round. It’s kind of why we did what we did this year, to kickstart that rebuild now. But you have to strip it down so you can get better. We’re in it for the long haul.”

So is Hunter, having now achieved a career height few women in hockey ever have before. She’s one of just six female assistant general managers in NHL history, but five of those six were promoted into their roles in 2022, demonstrating how times finally are starting to change for the better in terms of gender equality in NHL franchises.

New Canucks assistant GM Emilie Castonguay coincidentally played for Hunter in 2005-06 at Niagara University, where Hunter landed her first assistant coaching job after her playing career at Wisconsin, and they traded several phone calls this summer. New Maple Leafs assistant GM Hayley Wickenheiser played on the Canadian women’s national team that Hunter managed from 2010 to 2016, as well. It’s a tight-knit group.

“Representation matters, so if I can be a role model — or just some encouragement — for some of the young females out there that are aspiring to get into hockey operations, that’s pretty special,” Hunter said. “It’s something I don’t take lightly. It’s really cool. Coming out of university, I didn’t really see a lot of women working in hockey operations. So to be at this point of my career, I’m pretty excited about it.”

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