The Chicago Blackhawks have sent shockwaves across the hockey world today, announcing that they have “released” John McDonough from his role as team president and CEO. Chairman Rocky Wirtz explained the decision:
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. As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans.
The club will immediately begin a search to fill the role of team president. Daniel Wirtz, who currently serves as vice president and alternate governor, will serve as president in the interim.
Immediately questions will be raised about the future of Stan Bowman, who took over as general manager in 2009 when Dale Tallon was fired weeks after signing Marian Hossa to a 12-year $63.3MM contract. The Blackhawks have failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs since winning the Stanley Cup in 2015, causing many fans to believe that the hockey operations should be under new leadership. Change near the top often drips down an organizational chart, meaning there could be further changes in the coming months.
Still, McDonough’s contribution to the Blackhawks should not be overlooked. When he took over as president in 2007 (CEO wouldn’t be added to his title until 2011), the Blackhawks were drawing just over 12,000 fans per game according to Frank Seravalli of TSN. As he leaves, they are currently on a 531-game sellout streak and won the Stanley Cup three times during his tenure.
Just over a month ago, Wirtz told Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) that there would be no changes in the front office after a frustrating season. In fact, he went so far as to say “if I wasn’t confident (in McDonough, Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton), they wouldn’t be employed. Yeah, I’m very confident.”