CHICAGO - In the midst of the NHL's season pause, the Blackhawks made a stunning announcement on Monday afternoon when it comes to their front office.
In a news release after 4 PM, the team announced that it has "released" president and CEO John McDonough after 13 years.
Team vice president Danny Wirtz will serve as the interim team president as the NHL remains on a pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision. 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,” said aid Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz in a statement released by the team. “As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans."
McDonough was with the Blackhawks since 2007 and helped rebuild the organization in to an NHL power while also reinvigorating the franchise in the Chicago sports landscape. The team won three Stanley Cup titles under his leadership.
The team won back fans that were lost in the post-Chicago Stadium era when the team's fortunes on the ice soured and the attendance plummeted. With a strong on-ice product featuring a mix of young talent like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith, the team was also able to reach a new group of fans who normally wouldn't have been fans of the franchise.
In October, the Blackhawks celebrated their 500th consecutive sellout, a streak that remained in tact before the season pause for the pandemic. The team has led the NHL in attendance since the 2008-2009 season.
Despite the crowds remaining, there has been a decline in the team's performance on the ice over the last three seasons. Following back-to-back first round exits in the playoffs in 2016 & 2017 following their third Stanley Cup title in the run, the Blackhawks missed the playoffs the the last two seasons.
They were on their way to doing so for a third time before the season was suspended, as they sat six points in back of the final Wild Card with 12 games to go.