From the time Washington University in St. Louis graduate Dylan Slaughter laced up his first pair of ice skates at age 3, he has wished for two miracles. One – that one day, he would join the National Hockey League. And two, that his beloved St. Louis Blues would play for the Stanley Cup.
This season, both dreams came true.
Slaughter, who graduated in 2018 with a degree in economics in Arts & Sciences and a minor in the business of sports from Olin Business School, is the coordinator of business intelligence for the St. Louis Blues, where he analyzes large data sets to improve club operations. He started in November, back when the team was sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference. Now the Blues are competing in their first Stanley Cup final in 49 years, and Slaughter gets to see the action up close. As a surprise, team owners flew the staff on a chartered plane to Boston to see Games 1 and 2 against the Bruins.
“I have to keep pinching myself,” said Slaughter, son of Kirsten Smith, assistant director of the Office of Scholar Programs. “This is my dream job with my dream team during a dream season. I can’t believe I get to experience this.”
Here, Slaughter shares how Washington University prepared him for professional sports and what life is like in the Blues front office.
Have you always been a hockey fan?
Absolutely. I played for Kirkwood High School and the St. Louis Rockets Youth Hockey Club. When I got to WashU, my friends Adam Glassl (a 2017 engineering graduate) and Michael Dubus (a 2019 Arts & Sciences graduate) and I revamped the club team and made it a registered Division III team. I knew I would not be playing in the National Hockey League, but I still wanted to be involved in the sport. I was lucky that Olin had just started the sports business program. Dr. (Patrick) Rishe (director of the sports business program and professor of practice at Olin Business School) helped me discover a different side of something I was passionate about.
Through that program, you scored an internship with the Vegas Golden Knights, who ended up going to the Stanley Cup final in their first season. How did you get connected to the team?
I, along with some other students, connected with the Knights at the Olin Sports Business Summit, which Dr. Rishe runs. He really took it upon himself to make sure something worked out between us and the team and helped set up an independent study. After that, I got offered an internship with the Knights. When you’re in class you’re always thinking, “I wish I could do this in the real world.” And Dr. Rishe made that happen for us. It was especially cool given this was the first expansion team in more than 15 years and we were involved at the start. It also showed me how I could make a difference within an organization.
So what do you do now?
I’m business intelligence coordinator for the Blues. It’s actually a new position. Our department looks at the data for every department and uses those analytics to create improvements across the organization. We will look at everything from ticket sales to sponsorships to social media to facilities. Ultimately, I hope to do player analytics. As a former player, the goal is to get as close to the locker room as possible.
This has been a thrilling postseason. What’s the atmosphere like in the front office?
It’s unbelievable. Things weren’t looking good when I arrived. But then there was a flick of the switch, and we started winning games and went on the 11-game winning streak. But even at that point, we were just thankful to be winning again. There was no dream of going to the final. So now, there is just this incredible feeling of excitement and joy. There are people who have been here 30 years and longer who didn’t know if they would ever see a Stanley Cup. For me, it has been so amazing to watch these games with people who really care about the team and have invested their entire careers here.