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

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

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, per 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 come just three days after Davidson was named permanent GM — pave the way for Davidson to completely overhaul the perspectives and people forming his inner circle of advisors and foreshadow more departures to come.

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

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

AP Photos

Kelley had been a staple of Hawks draft days 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, like Davidson, 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 of the year for pro scouting — just over two weeks away and the NHL draft about four months away, the Hawks will need to pivot quickly in both regards.

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