LONDON, ONT. - A man who has been a fixture with the London Knights since Mark and Dale Hunter bought the team in 2000 is moving on.
Jim McKellar, assistant general manager and a jack-of-all trades for the franchise, has become a full-time amateur scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
“It was a tough decision,” McKellar said. “But my goal has always been to be a scout for a National Hockey League team.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to Mark and Dale Hunter for giving me this learning experience.”
McKellar took on a part-time scouting role for the Blackhawks last season. His job now will be to scout amateur games across Ontario.
“He’s been with me a long, long, long time,” Knights general manager Mark Hunter said. “We go way back to when I coached Sarnia. He worked very hard and did everything.”
McKellar, 36, began his career as an intern in marketing and public relations for the Sting. He was hired two weeks after the Knights purchased the Knights.
With the Knights he had a huge hand in helping the operation function including scouting, media relations and information. He was also someone who did a lot of the work in making sure players fulfilled their commitments to community and got to where they needed to go on time.
McKellar will find it strange rolling into the John Labatt Centre as a scout a half-hour before game time. Normally he is there all-day on game day.
“I’ve never watched an entire game at the JLC,” McKellay said. “I’ve never sat in a seat at the JLC and watched a whole game because of everything there was to do.”
McKellar could usually be seen standing along the glass at one end of the rink. But in all his time with the Knights, he has only missed six minutes of one home game. That was last year when he had to pick up Jared Knight when he was sent back from the Boston Bruins training camp.
“He was very loyal. He’s like family,” Hunter said. “It’s difficult to lose someone like Jim but he knows the game and scouting is something he does well.
“It’s a good opportunity for him because he is scouting in the NHL.”
McKellar says the 2005 Memorial Cup win by the Knights was the highlight for him but coming in a close second was all the friends he made.
“I look at all the players who came to my wedding and the number of messages I’ve gotten even from players who I knew 12 years ago,” McKellar said. “The truth is that Mark and Dale and the Knights have become my second family and I am thankful for that.”
Hunter says he isn’t sure yet what he will do as far as filling the role of assistant general manager but the role will be filled in one way or another.