John McDonough

McDonough calls time with Blackhawks ‘ride of a lifetime’

CHICAGO — Former Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough, in his first public comments since he was fired, called his time with the team “the ride of a lifetime.”

McDonough also praised owner Rocky Wirtz and his family in a statement released by the team on Tuesday, one day after he was dismissed.

“My late father used a phrase sparingly but impactfully to describe those he found to be the most dignified, respectful and worthy of admiration,” McDonough said. “He would say they had ‘class à la mode.’ That perfectly describes the Wirtz family and the Chicago Blackhawks.”

The 66-year-old McDonough provided no clues on the circumstances surrounding his surprise departure. In the team statement announcing the change on Monday, Rocky Wirtz pointed to the coronavirus crisis and the suspension of the NHL season as an opportunity to assess the team’s direction.

McDonough was president of baseball’s Chicago Cubs before he was hired by Wirtz in 2007. McDonough’s arrival was a key moment in the Blackhawks’ climb from one of the worst franchises in sports to the top of the NHL.

McDonough helped revamp the team’s business operations while star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane powered Chicago to the Stanley Cup title in 2010, 2013 and 2015. While the business side of the franchise remains in good shape, the Blackhawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2017.

McDonough’s departure could lead to massive changes across the organization. Danny Wirtz, Rocky’s 43-year-old son and a vice president with the team, is replacing McDonough on an interim basis.

“I wish Danny Wirtz well in his new role, and I am confident the organization will have success in the search for a new president,” McDonough said in his statement.

Blackhawks fire team president McDonough in surprising move

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks fired team president John McDonough on Monday, cutting ties with a key figure in the most successful decade in team history and raising questions about the direction of one of the NHL’s marquee franchises.

The surprising move, coming with the season suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, could have a domino effect on Chicago’s leadership structure. Stan Bowman has served as general manager for almost 11 years, but the Blackhawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 – a painful drought for a franchise that hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015.

The Blackhawks announced McDonough’s dismissal in a news release. Owner Rocky Wirtz pointed to the coronavirus crisis and the pause in play as an opportunity to assess the team’s direction.

”While we can reassure our fans there will be hockey again, no one knows what that will look like,” Wirtz said in the statement. ”What we do know is that it will take a new mindset to successfully transition the organization to win both on and off the ice.”

Danny Wirtz, Rocky’s 43-year-old son and a vice president with the team, is replacing McDonough on an interim basis.

”I take this interim role with the utmost responsibility to the team and will focus on resetting the framework for the next generation of the Chicago Blackhawks,” Danny Wirtz said in the release. ”I look forward to working with Rocky to identify our next leader.”

The 66-year-old McDonough is one of the most respected figures in sports business. He was president of baseball’s Chicago Cubs before he was hired by Rocky Wirtz in 2007 to take over the Blackhawks.

McDonough was a big factor in Chicago’s rise to the top tier of the NHL on and off the ice. The team has an active sellout streak of 531 games. The organization is well known for its fan experience and marketing abilities, one reason why it has been a regular participant in the NHL’s outdoor games.

”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,” Rocky Wirtz said. ”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.

”As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans.”

PHT Morning Skate: Tallon loves Ekblad’s hands

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon is a big fan of his first-round pick, Aaron Ekblad. He’s a very big fan of his hands. Silky mitts, you guys. (Sun Sentinel)

Here’s a fun way to use fancy stats: David Clarkson was more effective than Wendel Clark. Chew on that, Maple Leafs fans. (The Score)

Chicago Blackhawks executive John McDonagh enjoys the team convention because it helps “humanize” the players. That’s pretty cool. (CSNChicago.com)

Congratulations to Rob Rossi as he moves from the Pittsburgh Penguins beat to role of lead columnist. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Buffalo Sabres prospect goalie Linus Ullmark is someone the team is high on. Also, he has Bowser from Super Mario Bros. on his mask. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

Size and skill are what the Sabres have going for them up front. Maybe this rebuild will go just fine. (NHL.com)

Did you know Panthers prospects Rocco Grimaldi and Vincent Trocheck have been friends for a long time? (Sun Sentinel)

Finally, is this actually NHL referee Tim Peel on Twitter? There’s no way this ends well. (@TimTPeel)

Blackhawks president is excited for finals

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The fans, players, and coaches aren’t the only people excited for the Stanley Cup finals. You can throw the executives into the mix as well.

Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough tells Mark Strotman of CSNChicago.com that he can’t wait for the series with Boston to get going.

“We’re very happy to be here but we realize that there’s one significant step to go and it’s kind of a business-like approach. We’re happy about it.” he told CSNChicago.com. “We’re past three rounds and every round is like a heavyweight fight, it really is. So we’ve got one more left. The fans are feeling it, the players are feeling it, the organization’s feeling it, but it’s great. There’s no place that we would rather be.”

What’s not to like from a business standpoint? The Blackhawks were the best team in the league during the regular season. United Center has been jam-packed for every home game and they even had a series against their hated rivals from Detroit thrown into the mix.

Now with a series against Boston in the big East vs. West showdown for the Cup and a whole city backing them, life is really good for the suits.