Well things just got real interesting didn’t they?
With one swift move, the entire Hawks organ-I-zation is in complete flux once again, and it’s started with the firing of team president John McDonough.
In an official release early this evening, Rocky Wirtz stated that McDonough had been “released” from his role as President of the team, which for a previously made guy at the top of the org chart, is tantamount to a firing. Currently speculation is running wild, with Shorty George Ofman reporting that Rocky and McDonough are on opposite sides of what to do with the remainder of the suspended NHL season. But that on its face simply cannot be enough to whack a guy who was just a couple of weeks ago given the dreaded “vote of confidence” by ownership. And as comrade Feather correctly points out, if the season doesn’t resume, it’s a free pass for another burned season should the whole schedule get tossed, so it’s not a surprise that McDonough wouldn’t want it resumed.
It’s not impossible to speculate that with fellow Winter Tenant the Bulls being the epicenter of the sports discourse both with The Last Dance airing to rave reviews and constant debate, as well as completely reshaping their front office and placing new personnel with no ties to the Championship Era in key roles for the first time in literally 40 years, that Rocky looked across the (virtual) hallway and got antsy seeing as his hockey operations have given him a big handful of shit to endure for going on five seasons now, with no real plan to get them out of it. But there is a process, remember.
This does clear the way for Stan Bowman to be promoted out of the day to day operations of the team, though having there be a search headed by Rocky’s son Danny, who previously only worked on the beverage side of things, speaks to Bowman and Al MacIsaac not being secure either. Having them both be promoted would be the easy choice to make, but if that were going to happen, it would have been announced right away this evening. One hopes that if the role is filled outside the organ-I-zation, and no, there are no candidates yet, that that person is given full autonomy to reshape things as they see fit, starting first and foremost with the pro scouting department, who seems to only be able to scout players that have previously played here.
As far as McDonough’s legacy is concerned, he will always be associated with bringing the Hawks into the 21st century as part of the massive overhaul when the old man died and Rocky took over. But this was a sleeping giant of a franchise and a market, with the prospect pipeline already filled, so he was damn near literally born on third, and all he had to do was make the most obvious choices that even a blindfolded glass of orange juice could make. It certainly fed into his already tremendous ego which was well documented from his Cubs days, as was his reputation for being an office tyrant, which more than likely led to him butting into hockey operations decisions that have his oily marketing fingerprints all over them (Seabrook and Bickell’s contracts, to start). But when things actually got tough for him, he absolutely wet himself in moments of crises. The press conference in Notre Dame remains a profound embarrassment with the entire dais, not just McDonough showing their asses in the midst of a rape investigation. And while there was plenty of ire to be tossed around at everyone involved that day, it was McDonough who broke the cardinal rule of crisis management by touting their previous accomplishments, going so far as to refer to this team as the “Camelot Blackhawks” with complete sincerity and complete obliviousness to the countless horrors that were self inflicted in both the Arthurian legend and in the modern American analog, the Kennedy family. Perhaps it’s fitting then, that the team has not won a playoff series since that fateful moment, and McDonough now finds himself out of a job.
There still doesn’t seem to be any plan, but the process now looks a whole shitload different.