Athletes of Kingston: Kent Hawley

By Abbey McCauley

Kent Hawley, an amateur scout for the National Hockey League (NHL), has come a long way from his childhood days in Kingston. Kent has almost 30 years of experience in professional hockey, culminating this year in winning the Stanley Cup with the Las Vegas Golden Knights.  

Kent grew up in Kingston’s west end, where he enjoyed an idyllic upbringing. He says, “It was a time when kids spent their summer days playing road hockey or baseball all day.”  He was one of three boys in the household and his parents were hardworking blue-collar folks.  

Kent started playing organized hockey when he was around six years old. He says, “I was very fortunate for hockey. It was kind of easy for me and I was born with the skill to play. I always wanted to play hockey.” 

“When I was 16, I went to Ottawa to play Tier 2 hockey and I have been on the move ever since,” says Kent. After playing in the OHL for the Ottawa 67s, Kent was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers as the 28th pick in the second round of the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. Kent didn’t end up playing an NHL game but played in the minor leagues. For the last four to five years of his NHL career, he was a player-coach, an experience that introduced him to hockey operations. He retired from the NHL after 12 years and transitioned into coaching.  

Kent with the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas
Kent with the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas

Kent coached minor league teams in Wisconsin, New York, and Alabama. After his family had traversed the continent, embracing the nomadic lifestyle that came with minor league hockey, they decided to move back to Kingston. He says, “I really enjoyed coaching. But I knew I was never going to coach at the NHL level. I just didn’t have that demeanour to be a head coach. I was more of a player’s coach.”  

Kent’s desire to work in the hockey world never waned. During his time back in Kingston, he scouted for the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers and coached for a junior C team in Napanee.  

His opportunity to scout for the NHL came in 2006 when he was hired by the Edmonton Oilers. In his first year, the team missed the cup in the finals, defeated by the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. Kent had an 11-year journey as a scout with the Oilers, which saw him move to Las Vegas when the Golden Knights were born as an expansion team.  

Kent on the ice after winning the Stanley Cup
Kent on the ice after winning the Stanley Cup

Kent’s efforts supported the Golden Knights to reach the Stanley Cup finals in their inaugural season in 2018. He says, “Being a part of a new NHL team is unbelievable. I’ve been with them right from the get-go, and to be in the Stanley Cup Finals in year one was exciting.”  

This year, the team won the Stanley Cup championship in five games against the Florida Panthers. Kent says, “We wanted it in year six. It has been a fun ride to finally win the Stanley Cup.” 

As an amateur scout, Kent’s job involves travelling extensively to watch and evaluate potential draft picks. He explains, “I travel to wherever, making my own schedule. I work out of three major hubs: Toronto, London, and Michigan.”  

He spends most of his time on the road, away from home, analyzing players’ skills. He says, “I have to identify if they have skill, good hockey sense, and size. I’m responsible for watching all of Ontario and building my list that we present at our meetings.” The meticulous work Kent does contributes to building a competitive roster season after season. 

Kent with members of Greater Kingston Girls Hockey Ice Wolves at the Stanley Cup celebration
Kent with members of Greater Kingston Girls Hockey Ice Wolves at the Stanley Cup celebration

Kent still calls Kingston home and spends his time off with his family. He was able to bring the Stanley Cup to Kingston on the morning of October 2 for a small celebration with friends and family.  

While the journey was challenging, Kent’s passion for hockey and his unwavering dedication to the sport had taken him from little league Kingston to the forefront of the NHL. His scouting efforts had played a crucial role in the Golden Knights’ success. Kent says, “We have a chance to repeat this year. If we stay healthy, I think we have a really good chance of chasing it again.”