In a stunning move, the Blackhawks fired President and CEO John McDonough on Monday. The club announced the decision in an official release from owner Rocky Wirtz.
“Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision,” Wirtz wrote. “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 Blackhawks have been one of the most successful NHL teams since McDonough took office in 2007, winning three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015) and restoring pride to an Original Six franchise that had been through a major drought prior to his tenure. McDonough was also instrumental in getting the Blackhawks to thrive on the business side of operations, turning the franchise into a sustainable and successful operation.
The organization ranked as the NHL‘s fourth-most valuable franchise with a $1.085 billion valuation from Forbes in 2019, trailing only the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Canadiens. The team has sold out their last 531 consecutive home games.
Despite the revitalization under McDonough’s leadership, the club’s decision to go in a different direction comes in the midst of a rough patch for the franchise’s on-ice product. The Blackhawks haven’t made the playoffs since 2017 and haven’t won a playoff series since their 2015 Cup run. They’ve undergone significant changes since their run of three Cups in six years; The front office has needed to maneuver around cap constraints and beloved head coach Joel Quenneville was fired in 2018.
Wirtz seems to believe that parting ways with McDonough is a necessary step to get the franchise back on track. If nothing else, it sends a strong message about what is expected of the team now.
“While we can reassure our fans there will be hockey again, no one knows what that will look like,” Wirtz said. “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.”
The tight end position was not a pressing need so it is hard to justify the selection of Cole Kmet in the second round. Cornerback Jaylon Johnson is a great player but was only on the board because he had been dealing with an injury. Edge rusher Trevis Gipson was picked too early. Cornerback Kindle Vildor was a solid pick. He is a feisty competitor who can step in and fulfill a nickel role. Tulane wide receiver Darnell Mooney has great speed but needs to continue his development. The Bears ended the event by adding two relatively unknown prospects: offensive linemen Arlington Hambright and Lachavious Simmons.
The Bulls have completely overhauled their basketball operations over the past several months. Gone is the tandem of John Paxson and Gar Forman, which reigned over the Bulls for over a decade, and in their place is the new president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas. On Sunday, the Bulls reportedly landed his No. 2. as Philadelphia 76ers executive Marc Eversley will be the new general manager of the Bulls.With the status of the 2019-20 season up in the air, it could be quite some time before the Bulls are able to make a decision and begin this new era, but after so many years of underperforming teams built by the “GarPax” tandem, the combination of Karnisovas and Eversley should at least provide some optimism to a Chicago fanbase that hasn’t had much of it in recent years. Eversley joined the 76ers in 2016, a hire of former Philadephia GM Bryan Colangelo. Colangelo gave Eversley his big break, hiring him from Nike to serve on his staff with the Toronto Raptors in 2006. He was the vice president of scouting for the Washington Wizards prior to rejoining the 76ers, where he had served as both vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager. He will now join Karnisovas in reshaping a Bulls team that has fallen on hard times in recent years. The Bulls have not made the playoffs since trading Jimmy Butler in 2017, and have missed out in four of the past five seasons overall. While youngsters like Coby White, Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine have shown promise, none have separated themselves as potential franchise players. The Bulls of the past several seasons have lacked direction. It will be up to Karnisovas and Eversley to find one, and that starts with making a decision on the future of coach Jim Boylen. Boylen, who has a 39-84 record in Chicago, is widely regarded as one of the NBA’s worst coaches, but has the support of the Reinsdorf family, owners of the team.With the status of the 2019-20 season up in the air, it could be quite some time before the Bulls are able to make a decision and begin this new era, but after so many years of underperforming teams built by the “GarPax” tandem, the combination of Karnisovas and Eversley should at least provide some optimism to a Bulls fanbase that hasn’t had much of it in recent years.
The Bulls have been interviewing candidates for less than a week, but in that time, they appear to have found their new top-decision-maker. They are currently finalizing a deal to hire current Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive vice president of basketball operations, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Karnisovas has been with the Nuggets since 2013 and has been the team’s general manager since 2017, working under president of basketball operations Tim Connelly in building one of the Western Conference’s top contenders. He was present for the drafting of virtually every core player on the Nuggets, including Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Michael Porter Jr. and previously worked for both the Houston Rockets and the league office. He was a highly coveted candidate for a top role like this having previously interviewed with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks for such a position.
Karnisovas will be hiring his own general manager and has seemingly been given total control over the franchise’s basketball operations. Former vice president of basketball operations John Paxson will remain only in an advisory role, whereas current general manager Gar Forman’s future with the team is up in the air. Nothing is known yet of the status of coach Jim Boylen, though ownership reportedly preferred a new front office to at least keep an open mind about retaining him.
The Bulls have struggled mightily in recent years, first under Fred Hoiberg and now under Boylen. They have made the playoffs only once in the past five seasons, and have been unable to find a true cornerstone with the high draft picks that losing has granted them. Former franchise player Jimmy Butler, meanwhile, has thrived since the Bulls decided to trade him, putting further pressure on the unpopular front office tandem of Paxson and Forman. The two have run the Bulls in tandem for over a decade, with Paxson being the only top decision-maker with the Bulls since 2003, when he succeeded the architect of their 1990s dynasty, Jerry Krause.
That resistance to change has been a staple in with the Bulls, but Karnisovas has worked for one of the NBA‘s more innovative teams of the past few seasons. Denver’s creativity in building around a pass-first center in Jokic will be welcome as the Bulls attempts to meaningfully contend for a championship for the first time since Tom Thibodeau’s departure. They have quite a ways to go, but in hiring one of the NBA’s most respected general managers, they’ve taken the first step back in that direction.