Accommodating Blackhawks get another major NHL event with 2017 Draft
CHICAGO – It was a bit of a ceremonial photo foul on the part of the honored guest for the afternoon.
Gary Bettman wasn’t trying to mess up the photo which was going to feature himself, Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, team president John McDonough and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But when holding up the jersey with the “NHL 20” on the back to form the picture “NHL 2017 Draft”, he accidently had the team logo facing front.
But the Blackhawks were quick to fix the minor error and very friendly in telling him to turn the jersey around so the picture can go on.
In many ways it was the perfect example of the relationship between Bettman, the NHL’s commissioner, and the Blackhawks organization. Their willingness to grow their brand and cooperate with the league to make that happen has made them an easy partner for a number of major events.
“When were having discussions about what we need and what has to be done, they say ‘We have it done, we have it covered,” said Bettman of McDonough and Wirtz.
Maybe that's why Bettman was back in Chicago once again to bring another major NHL event to the Windy City. On Thursday it was at the United Center to announce that the venue would host the 2017 NHL Draft on June 23rd and 24th of that year. It will mark the 100th anniversary of the first NHL Draft held in Montreal and will be the first time that Chicago has hosted the selections.
"It's always fun to bring these jewell events to Chicago," said McDonough of the Draft. "We know the impact that they have on our fanbase."
That started with the franchise's comeback late last decade and the hosting of the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009. In many ways it was the symbol that the Blackhawks, who were downtrodden for a decade, were finally winning back fans in city. Since then the team has hosted an NHL Stadium Series game at Soldier Field while also winning a trio of Stanley Cups and has become the model to which NHL franchises are built.
Bettman was quick to point out that a big reason for the success was McDonough and Wirtz.
"They're both passionate about what they do," said Bettman. "They both bring different things to it in terms of their constituents. But the great thing in dealing with them is that you know you can be confident in what you are going to get."
Having received another major NHL event, now the focus is on getting more. Bettman wouldn't address the rumors that the Blackhawks will face the Blues in the Winter Classic next year or if the All-Star Game will return to Chicago for the first time since 1991.
"Over time we'll continue to make sure that the Blackhawks and the City of Chicago get their fair share because this is a great hockey town and great place for guests from out of town," said Bettman of future events. "At some point my guess is at some point once we get this lined up John will be on me for something else."
If history shows anything, he'll be accommodating as always. From outdoor games to a photo opportunity.