By Thomas Gibbons and Alex Patt
The Chicago Blackhawks hired John McDonough in 2007. They had just drafted in back to back years their stars of the future in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Forbes magazine called the Blackhawks organization “The Greatest Sports- Business Turnaround Ever”.
13 years later, the Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups and have risen to one of the most popular teams in the NHL. McDonough was a key part of the Blackhawks success and marketing efforts. He helped bring a team back to relevance and the city of Chicago witnessed three championships in five seasons and countless memories. He helped change the culture for the better and demanded excellence, from the employees to the players. To really put things in perspective, McDonough turned a disorderly franchise into one that lives and breathes excellence.
“Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision. John brought all of that to the table and more. His contributions went well beyond leading the team to three Stanley Cup Championships. He rebuilt the front office and helped guide the organization toward a winning vision,” said Wirtz. “As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans,” Wirtz added. -Wirtz in a statement on the releasing McDonough of his duties
Just a month ago, Wirtz said that McDonough job was safe. What changed? From the article on the Athletic Chicago:
Does he envision all three returning next season?
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Wirtz said. “There’s not going to be any changes in the front office.”
Given these statements, it really is a shock for the Blackhawks to be making changes, especially with the league on pause because of COVID-19. But just like their United Center counterpart the Chicago Bulls, they feel it is the right time to start fixing the franchise.
Danny Wirtz will become the interim President of the Blackhawks.
Let’s get into some questions with Alex Patt!
Will Stan Bowman and Jeremy Colliton be shown the door next?
Thomas Gibbons: I would have to think so. The new President will want to hire his own people. I could very well see a front office overhaul just like the Chicago Bulls are doing.
Alex Patt: I think if they are looking for a major shakeup, I would not be surprised to see that happen. This is probably a time for Rocky to really evaluate the state of the team.
Could Rocky’s words saying everyone was safe just an act of not trying to stir anything?
Thomas Gibbons: His statements a month ago make this very shocking and wondering what has happened between McDonough and Wirtz. Hopefully we will eventually find out what happened and the reason for going in a different direction.
Alex Patt: Personally, I feel like it kind of was. Rocky was likely not going to say or hint there would be major changes when the season was just being put on hold with not knowing what was going to happen in the near future. Despite his words I think it’s very possible he was already considering change.
Should the next President be more of a “hockey guy”?
Thomas Gibbons: Yes and for a lot of reasons. What McDonough accomplished was nothing short of excellence. But for their next hire, it would be smart to go with someone with a hockey background given the changing times and the current state of the league.
Alex Patt: Absolutely, the game has evolved and frankly has passed by the Blackhawks by. McDonough did what needed to be done when he came in and that is help resurrect a franchise that was completely dead. Now they are relevant and have been for over a decade and they need to really change up some things from a hockey perspective.
Will McDonough land with another Chicago team? Say the Bears?
Thomas Gibbons: This is a really interesting question. I am leaning no given age and his time in sports could be done. His accomplishments with the Cubs and Blackhawks is something McDonough can hang his hat on.
Alex Patt: It’s possible, I do not think he wants to leave Chicago. He also is getting up there in age so he might just retire. We will see. Would be kind of cool to see the Bears bring him.
Is this move a possible signal that the Blackhawks are going to make major changes not just in the front office but on the ice as well?
Thomas Gibbons: It is very possible. As I was listening to Scott Powers from the Athletic Chicago on ESPN 1000 this morning, he was just as surprised as anyone else was with the news yesterday. Also this morning, Powers and Mark Lazurus already have an article up on the Athletic about how could potentially run the Blackhawks . Names like Eddie Olczyk, Doug Wilson, and even Stan Bowman.
The way I see it, the Blackhawks are stuck right now. Their core all have no movement clauses in their contract so it makes flexibility and money really tight. Alex DeBrincat was awarded a new contract and his $6.4 million AAV will kick in next season and they have to figure out a way to afford Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, and make a decision if they want to bring back Corey Crawford. Whoever becomes the next President, their biggest challenge will be working around the salary cap and continuing to find young players for the future of the franchise. I am excited to see who the Blackhawks decide to be in charge because eventually a new voice is needed.