ANALYSIS: The Blackhawks’ general manager selection process


In the wake of the disastrous town hall, the hiring of the Chicago Blackhawks’ general manager now carries that much more weight in the eyes of the hockey world. It is clear to most people who watched the town hall that the Blackhawks are in need of an organizational rebuild in terms of the product both on and off the ice.

While Rocky Wirtz’s comments in the town hall might have torpedoed the Blackhawks’ chance of getting an exciting external candidate, let’s review the process thus far.

Waiting game

After former general manager Stan Bowman resigned, several reports came out that the Blackhawks were “in no rush” to find a permanent replacement. Instead, they were interested in contacting another Chicago sports teams to find out how they conduct their own front office searches. They reached out to the Cubs’ Jed Hoyer for consultation on how they pick front office members. Hoyer was brought in by Theo Epstein. Epstein was brought in to run the Cubs because Tom Ricketts met with A’s President Billy Beane and picked his brain the process. Epstein resigned in 2020 when Hoyer was promoted to the President of Baseball operations. The Cubs’ front office under Epstein and Hoyer have multiple promotions through baseball, the headliner being Scott Harris, who is the current manager of the San Francisco Giants.

In addition to the Cubs and Blackhawks both residing in the same city, both franchises are connected via their front offices, as Jamie Faulkner serves as the President of Business Operations for the Blackhawks, while her husband, Colin Faulkner, works for the Chicago Cubs as the Executive VP of Sales and Marketing.

While the Blackhawks were biding their time with Interim General Manager Kyle Davidson at the helm, other organizations were hiring their new general manager. The Montreal Canadiens hired Jeff Gorton, the former New York Rangers general manager who helped rebuild the Blue Shirts, while the Vancouver Canucks brought in longtime NHL executive Jim Rutherford to help stabilize their organization.

The announcement

In January, Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz announced that the team plans to hire a full-time general manager, who will be the highest ranking hockey official. Davidson will be interviewed for the job and has full autonomy in hockey moves until a full-time general manager is named. The Blackhawks are very high on Davidson, and the plan is for him to remain as a part of the organization even if he is not named the GM.

Danny Wirtz also announced that the search committee will be led by himself and Jamie Faulkner. The plan is to have the GM hired before the March 21 trade deadline.

Later in January, we learned the search committee would consist of former Blackhawks players Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and TV color commentator Eddie Olczyk. Mike Forde and his group, Sportsology, have been working with the Blackhawks since Bowman resigned. Sportsology is a firm that helps franchises evaluate their organizations and find areas of improvement. Sportsology has worked with the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, San Francisco 49ers of the NFL and Los Angeles Football Club of the MLS.


Danny Wirtz and Jamie Faulkner came up with process that worked for them in trying to find the next GM of the Blackhawks. In my opinion, their are two questionable parts of the process. The first is not having a former executive involved in the selection process, although Elliotte Friedman reported that the Blackhawks might be trying to bring in Epstein to consult on the hiring process. Epstein makes sense in that he had to change a toxic culture in Chicago, one that was once led by John McDonough, and has hired front office officials before. The Blackhawks should also look to bring in a former general manager or front office executive from the hockey world.

The second part is having Rocky Wirtz involved with the process. Now, Rocky is not listed in the search committee or said to have any involvement in the hiring of a new GM, but, after the town hall fiasco, we know he still wields immense power in the organization being the chairman.

Rocky Wirtz being a part of the process is very reminiscent of the 2013 Buffalo Sabres’ front office process. In case you forgot, in 2013, the Sabres in fired longtime general manager Darcy Regier and head coach Ron Rolston after a 4–15–1 to start the season. The Sabres then decided to bring in former Sabres great Pat LaFontaine to be the president of hockey operations. LaFontaine had been working for the NHL on player safety issues. When LaFontaine was brought in, he was hired by owner Terry Regula to bring stability to the organization. LaFontaine resigned less than a year later because their was no apparent chain of command in the organization. While the Blackhawks have stated that Danny Wirtz is the CEO of the Blackhawks, Rocky’s conduct at the Blackhawks’ town hall showed that if Rocky wants something done with the Blackhawks, he is going to have the final say in it.

If the Blackhawks want to recover from the Rocky Wirtz misstep, they need to get the general manager correct and have Danny Wirtz and Jamie Faulkner as the faces of the hiring. If Rocky is involved, the credibility and all the good-will with the hiring will be destroyed.

What do the Blackhawks need in their next GM?

The obvious answer to the question is that the Blackhawks are going to seek an individual who can draft well and knows how to develop prospects, however, with the state of the organization, the general manager is going to need to be more than just a great hockey mind. This person is going to need to be able to rebuild an organization mired in controversy. They are going to have to be of high moral character, personable and be inspirational to members of the organization and fanbase. Now, this might seem like an unrealistic list, but this is something the Blackhawks should strive for in people that represent their historic franchise and its fans. It is a very bleak time to be a Blackhawks fan and to cover this team. The general manager has to bring hope to an organization that is widely viewed as a hopeless situation.

Who are the candidates?

Since the town hall, six candidates have been interviewed for the general manager position: Davidson, St. Louis Blues VP of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli, Tampa Bay Lightning Director of Hockey Operations Mathieu Darche, Chicago Cubs Assistant General Manager Jeff Greenberg, former Montreal Canadiens Assistant General Manager Scott Mellanby and Carolina Hurricanes Assistant General Manager Eric Tulsky.

Kyle Davidson

Davidson is currently the Interim General Manager of the Blackhawks. He has been with the organization for 12 seasons and has made important personnel decisions since taking over for Bowman. He has held many titles inside the organization and would remain part of the Blackhawks’ front office if he was not offered the full-time GM job.

Davidson would be the safe pick with an organization mired in turmoil, but for optics and the need for change, he may be unlikely as the choice. Also, read into it what you will, but every time Danny Wirtz has commented on the future general manager, he has used to term “bringing in,” which could certainly indicate the plan is to hire an external candidate.

Peter Chiarelli

Chairelli is the current VP of Hockey Operations for the St. Louis Blues. Prior to joining the Blues, he was general manager of the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers. While he did win a Stanley Cup with Boston, he is known for his horrendous trades in both stints. Chairelli is despised in Boston for trading Tyler Seguin for Loui Eriksson and in Edmonton for trading Taylor Hall for Adam Larrson straight up. His two tenures as a GM left both franchises with roster shortcomings that his successors had to fix.

Chiarelli is an old-school hockey guy and a recycled candidate. Despite his poor free agent contracts and bad trades, his biggest weakness is his way of thinking. If the Blackhawks are truly looking for a forward-thinking individual and an organization changing with the times, then Chiarelli is clearly not the right choice.

Mathieu Darche

Darche is the current the Director of Hockey Operations for Tampa Bay Lightning and was a finalist for the GM positions in Montreal and Vancouver. He joined the Lightning in May 2019 in his current role. He works with all aspects of player personnel decisions: Analytics, player development and contract negotiations. As a player, he played in 250 games between the Canadiens, Lightning, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks. He also helped the Milwaukee Admirals win the Calder Cup in 2004. Before joining the Lighting front office, Darche worked for Delmar International, a Canadian customs broker and freight forwarder as Vice President of Sales and Marketing.

Darche is a good, qualified candidate that would be a great fit for the Blackhawks. He comes from a quality organization and helped Tampa Bay win the Stanley Cup each of the last two seasons. In addition to working in all aspects of hockey operations with Tampa Bay, he worked on the NHLPA committee during the 2013 work stoppage, so he is well-versed in both sides of contract negotiations. Blackhawks fans will not be disappointed with Darche should he be appointed as Chicago’s next general manager.

Jeff Greenberg

Greenberg is the current assistant general manager for the Chicago Cubs. Before joining the Cubs, Greenberg graduated from Columbia Law School and the University of Pennsylvania. In baseball, Greenberg interned with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks before joining the Cubs in 2012. He has held titles such as Director of Pro Scouting and Baseball Operations, Director of Baseball Operations and Assistant to the General Manager. With Hoyer being asked to consult and the Blackhawks and Cubs having an obvious connection, it makes sense their out-of-the-hockey-industry interview would be someone from the Cubs. It also makes sense in that the Blackhawks are going to need someone who has seen how to structure and restructure a front office. Greenberg witnessed how the Cubs were structured when Epstein took over and how the Cubs are now structured under Hoyer.

Now, the biggest shortcoming to Greenberg’s candidacy for the the Blackhawks job is a lack of hockey experience. While this is a serious issue, his interview should not be brushed off as Hoyer getting one of his guys an interview. The Blackhawks are in serious need of a break from hockey culture and need to find new ways to innovate and find market inefficiency that other teams have not identified yet. Greenberg would meet both of those needs, however, the timing is not right for this type of hire by the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks need someone who knows how to develop hockey players and Greenberg does not have that experience.

Scott Mellanby

Mellanby’s most recent stop was being the former assistant general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. The former 21-year NHL player of 1,431 games worked for Montreal from 2014–2021 before he resigned in November of 2021 after Gorton was hired for the general manager position with the Canadiens. He had worked under Marc Bergevin, former Blackhawks general manager and current Los Angeles Kings Senior Advisor to the General Manager, while Bergevin was with the Canadiens. Prior to joining the Habs, Mellanby worked for the Vancouver Canucks for three years as a coach under Mike Gillis. He is also very active in the fight against autism.

Of course, it is important to highlight Mellanby’s connection to Bergevin, a potential red flag. Bergervin came up through the Blackhawks’ front office that covered up the Kyle Beach situation.

On the merits as a candidate, Mellanby is a relatively bland option as a former player without much of a “public” front office track record, having only been an assistant general manager. Of course, serving as an assistant general manager does give Mellanby plenty of relevant experience, but it is difficult to assess his ability without knowing what decisions he heavily factored into in Montreal.

If the Blackhawks want to change the culture, and especially the hockey culture, within their organization, then they should realistically not hire someone with notable ties to a former executive in the Blackhawks’ front office during the Beach incident.

Eric Tulsky

Tulsky is the current assistant general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes. Tulsky has been with the Hurricanes for eight season. He has his hands in all hockey-related matters as the assistant general manager. He has been publishing his advanced statistical analysis since 2011 and his work had been published in the Washington Post and He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard and a doctorate in chemistry from UC-Berkeley.

Tulsky is a look at the new age in hockey talent evaluation. He is a brilliant mind that breaks the mold of hockey executives. Since joining the Hurricanes, the team has improved year over year and could potentially be a great hire for the Blackhawks. Tulsky seems like the most progressive choice of all the interviewees and the candidate that could help the Blackhawks improve with their drafting and prospect development. The organization he is currently working for is an annual favorite to make deep runs in the playoffs. The Blackhawks were also once a front runner in statistical analysis, but are now severely lacking behind the rest of the league in that department. If the Blackhawks are true to their word of moving forward with an out-of-the-box candidate, Tulsky makes the most sense as the new Blackhawks GM of the candidates interviewed.

Search committee concludes its work

On Feb. 24, the Blackhawks posted a tweet on the search committee concluding its evaluations and submitted its finding to the leadership team.

Friedman has reported on 32 Thoughts the team has selected three finalists for the position: Darche, Davidson and Greenberg.

Needless to say, the Blackhawks need to get this hire right in order to truly move the organization forward. Time will tell if they do. Hopefully Danny Wirtz will not keep us in suspense for much longer so the individual can get to work sooner than later.

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