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.”