In title, Meghan Hunter’s scouting career has only just begun. Tucked into the Chicago Blackhawks’ announcement that the organization had hired Kendall Coyne Schofield as a development coach was news that Hunter, nearly five years into her time as executive assistant to GM Stan Bowman, was moving up the food chain. She earned herself a promotion to director of hockey administration and amateur scout.
The reality, however, is Hunter’s scouting days started long before she even knew to give it a label. It comes with the territory, really, being part of what some in southern Ontario would consider the first family of major junior hockey. Hunter is one of those Hunters. Uncles Mark, Dale and Dave Hunter had lengthy NHL careers, and Dale and Mark have for nearly two decades owned and operated the OHL’s London Knights. “Growing up around the game, it was basically eat, breathe and sleep hockey,” Hunter said.
Hunter brings far more to the table than a notable name and some born-and-bred insight, though. While her playing days are far behind her, there was a time she was an NCAA standout. Just check the numbers. Before Team USA standouts such as Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan and Annie Pankowski came through the University of Wisconsin’s elite women’s program, Hunter’s 177 career points in her collegiate career made her the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer at the time.
It’s her experience in the women’s game, too, that makes her a great asset to the Blackhawks’ scouting staff. The way Hunter sees it, the men’s game at every level is evolving to be more like the women’s game. “It’s a very highly skilled game; it’s all about skating, quickness, speed,” she explained. “Obviously, you still have that contact, but similar to the women’s, it’s less and less in the open-ice hit.”
So, how does that help in her new role? She likes it to determining the types of players she would have wanted to skate alongside. “You kind of get a feel for the players you want on your team,” Hunter said. “You don’t want to be biased as a scout, but you do develop some qualities that you like in players, and it helps you to evaluate them, too. People that I’ve played with, you know how highly skilled they are. It all translates. You come up with that knowledge, and it’s like it’s the back of my hand because I’ve been doing it so long that it becomes natural.”
Bird-dogging the next crop of NHL talent for the Blackhawks won’t be Hunter’s sole responsibility, though. Rather, her fingerprints will be all over the front office, and she’ll continue to learn all aspects of day-to-day operations as one of the most important members of Bowman’s staff. Her no-two-days-the-same post means she can be watching game film one day before filing transaction paperwork and running information down for assistant GM Kyle Davidson the next. “I love it,” Hunter said. “I do get to sit on a few different pieces of the hockey operations, and it’s awesome just to see the all the pieces come together when you have such a broad view of everything.”
The way Hunter sees it, too, it can all work in service of her ultimate goal: sitting in the big chair as the architect of an NHL club. “You have to shoot for the stars,” she said. “Someday, some female is going to be the first GM. Some of my current duties do kind of align with that aspiration, so I’m just learning as much as I can and keeping that in my mind as a goal.”