ANALYSIS: The end of McDonough is just the beginning

  

The king is dead

Just a handful of weeks after giving his President and General Manager votes of confidence, Blackhawks owner Rockwell Wirtz today at least partially, yet dramatically, reversed course, firing the aforementioned team President and CEO John McDonough.

Blackhawk nation finds itself in a state of shock at the news. And yet, for some, especially those of us here at The Rink, it is not a big surprise. We had expected it before the vote of confidence.

McDonough has his supporters—the “he won three Cups and turned the team around” epitaphs are many. But, facts are pesky things. And Wirtz, to his credit, as a smart, shrewd businessman, can see them plain as day.

What turned the fortunes of this franchise around 10–15 years ago were a series of good draft picks, trades and free agent signings, a true rebuild that, at the time, was long and painful. But, it eventually paid off in the form of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa—all acquired by the GMs who preceded McDonough’s handpicked “team player,” Stan Bowman.

And great teams, like great cars, in turn, sell themselves. Marketing can only get in the way if it is really, really bad. Otherwise, if you build it, they will come.

And they did.

Sure, it probably was McDonough’s big idea to put home games on local television and hire back Pat Foley as the team’s play-by-play man. But, after the decades-long ineptitude and fan alienation of Wirtz’ father, Dollar Bill Wirtz, there was nowhere to go but up in the fans’ eyes. McDonough just grabbed the lowest of low hanging fruit.

The young, brash, big and talented team that won the Cup in 2010—almost entirely built by Dale Tallon, Mike Smith, Rick Dudley and Marshall Johnston, and for the most part before McDonough’s tenure began—formed the core of the remaining two Cup teams as well.

And along about 2015, the Hawk front office, swollen with functionaries and false pride, began handing out massive contracts with no movement clauses—including one to a slow Russian forward who had yet to play in a Blackhawk uniform, with McDonough’s full review and approval.

And the price of that arrogance came due in successive seasons, as with each humiliating playoff elimination, followed by two (and possibly three) years out of the playoffs completely, it became more and more apparent that something was wrong with the Hawks’ front office.

And it was McDonough’s show, make no mistake.

Suddenly, with the exit of Marian Hossa, the decline of Brent Seabrook and some would argue Keith as well, with a string of missed draft picks and overhyped prospects, year after year, the celebrated Hawk front office could not get out of its own way. Fingers began to be pointed, and a Hall of Fame coach was replaced with an AHL coach who was younger than some of the team’s best players, which has not worked out.

At that time, McDonough declared himself accountable, and some of us started to wonder when Wirtz would take that to its logical conclusion.

Now we know. The king is dead.

Long live the king

Already, theories abound as to what’s next. Why is Bowman still around—could he have been part of an insurrection? Doubtful, and Bowman will likely be gone sometime this summer, or “reassigned” within the organization.

The idea that Chris Chelios or Eddie Olczyk will be the next team president has been floated.

But, while you cannot rule anything out, Wirtz’s bold move today signifies another is likely soon to follow. In all likelihood, Wirtz will go out and hire the best available visionary leader for his hockey team. And, in light of the huge importance of making excellent hockey decisions going forward, it will probably be not only an executive with a hockey background, but one with some proven bona fides in management—and likely from outside the organization at this time.

Firing Stan Bowman and retaining McDonough, as some would have preferred, would have been like cutting out a small tumor and leaving the cancer to slowly destroy the body. Wirtz did the right thing today.

Let’s all commend him for that and hope it is just a prelude to an even better move.

All for now, comment below.

Center Ice Forums ANALYSIS: The end of McDonough is just the beginning

Viewing 13 posts - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
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  • #17024
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

    The king is dead Just a handful of weeks after giving his President and General Manager votes of confidence, Blackhawks owner Rockwell Wirtz today at
    [To continue reading full article, click here: ANALYSIS: The end of McDonough is just the beginning]

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #17025
    Chico Maki
    Participant

    Long over due, IMO.

    Rocky should have cleaned house, by dumping Bowman and Coliton at the same time.

    Bowman has to be on his way out, right?  The next team president is gonna want his own guy, right?

    Please say yes.

     

    #17026
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

    Long over due, IMO. Rocky should have cleaned house, by dumping Bowman and Coliton at the same time. Bowman has to be on his way out, right? The next team president is gonna want his own guy, right? Please say yes.

    Pretty sure, yes

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #17028
    Jackie Davis
    Participant

    This just made my day. For a very long time, you guys have been talking about this on the rink casts and finally, Rocky pulled trigger. Should have happened a few years ago but I’ll take it just the same. Now, if he would just show the door to Bowman and Colliton……..

    #17029
    matt_ahrens
    Participant

    Yep, long time coming.

    Jaw-dropping that some in the twitterverse are criticizing this decision because the Blackhawks will need “marketing” when games start again. Marketing??? How about a winning team?

    I’m still not over Q getting fired. Rocky chose the wrong side in that dispute. Dale Tallon’s contract is up this year…

    #17030
    theneek
    Participant

    It’s just really amazing that Rocky decided to not let McD have one last shot by allowing him to fire SB and hire a different GM.   The back room must be so damn cancerous Rocky decided it was not gonna work no matter what.  Amazing…

    #17032
    Phil M
    Participant

    This is great IF the replacement doesn’t have his head further up his ass.

    #17033
    matt_ahrens
    Participant

    Yep, long time coming. Jaw-dropping that some in the twitterverse are criticizing this decision because the Blackhawks will need “marketing” when games start again. Marketing??? How about a winning team? I’m still not over Q getting fired. Rocky chose the wrong side in that dispute. Dale Tallon’s contract is up this year…

    i don’t actually want Dale Tallon, that was a joke. I want a good, solid, experienced person who can get this thing back on track to championships.

    #17034
    John Jaeckel
    Keymaster

    This is great IF the replacement doesn’t have his head further up his ass.

    This.

    Apparently, all goalies are Vikings

    #17036
    Mister Ricochet
    Participant

    Solid piece, JJ.  Not too wordy, concise and easily understood as you take the thing thru chronologically.  …………….. As an aside Greenberg says in his column that Rocky put the Hawk home games on tv before McD was hired.  Did not know that, thought McD did.

    And Greenberg’s column really rained on my parade.  I thought Rocky decided 5 yrs without a playoff win, declining season ticket, jerseys and beer sales due to lots of empty seats that it was time for a change and axed ShovelFace.  But Greenberg’s article seems to say that McD’s battles with Rocky’s boy led to him to fire McD based on a business decision not a hockey decision!

    If that’s the case this is pretty much a big nothing for the fan who only cares about the hockey and that Rocky is ok with the hockey people that have overseen terrible cap management and 5 yrs without a playoff win.

    Guess we’ll soon see but my hope is a hockey mind from outside the organIzation (no thanks Eddie O) brings fresh eyes to years of numerous conundrums that has the on ice product stagnant with no apparent plan other than adding to the fringes with little cap space to do so. This while Kane, Toews, Keith and Crow (organIzational leverage) march on from their best days.

     

     

    #17041
    DK002
    Participant

    John, hope you and your family are well and safe…

    gotta tell ya…I’ve been waiting for this day forevah…there’s dancing in the streets.

    As I said on Osborn’s piece yesterday…

    Thrilled by the move…maybe Rocky is finally waking up.

    While McD is certainly the PT barnum and inventor of the sports offseason convention the reality is unless the talent was there on the ice nothing would have happened with this team.  And the majority of that talent wasn’t put there by McD’s BFFs kid.  It was put there by Dale and others. 

    I mean it didn’t take a genius to figure out put the home games on TV, bring back Pat, and make nice with the disenfranchised players in Makita, Hull and Espo.  And market the crap out of the team. And face it McD is a master at marketing.  At everything else not so much.

    Then there’s the meddling in hockey ops, where’s that drew leBlanc video…?  BTW the Hawks hadn’t won a playoff series since 2015 and Bowman’s summer leading into Q’s firing was picking up Manning, Kunitz and Ward – another stellar haul for Stan –  yet McD had the gall to call that group a playoff team after they fired the coach with the 2nd most wins in league history.

    The previous summer Bowman had traded Hammer and Panarin…we could go on – yet McD stood by his BFFs kid.

    1 down one to go.  Sleep tight Stan.

    But Mr. R’s comments still fill me with concern. 5 years of no run and bad cap mgt. UGH!!!

    We can only hope a new President – as you mention John ‘an exec with hockey background and bonafieds in management’ brings in a new hockey ops guy and Bowman and his crew are gone.

    As mentioned Rocky can’t be happy that this team continues to flounder…and Bowman has been given more than enough rope to hang himself with. IHMO I think Chelios is too tight with the Bowman’s.  I wouldn’t mind Eddie O, but going outside the or-gan-i-za-tion might be the way to go.

    Finally we may have hope again with the Hawks.

    Let’s hope Rocky and his kid hit a home run with the pick!

     

    #17046
    John M
    Participant

    Thank God! This was long over due. The dysfunction in the front office was obvious and with McDonut being an asshole, it’s no wonder. I can’t imagine why Wirtz the lesser wouldn’t want that dinosaur jettisoned. (Sarc)

    Hopefully they can find a new hockey guy to take charge and relieve Bowman and the coach. Addition through subtraction. At least it’s a start.

    #17118
    DK002
    Participant

    Reading on CSN chicago this morning that the Hawks don’t expect to name a president for several months…

    https://www.nbcsports.com/chicago/blackhawks/why-blackhawks-search-john-mcdonoughs-replacement-will-be-long-process

    Per Pat Boyle (whom I’ve always thought of as a company guy) it sounds like Bowman will run another draft for the Hawks…let’s hope Boyle is wrong.  I’ll take Edzo if it means Stan is gone.

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