CHICAGO – Over the past 13 years, he was a major part in returning the Blackhawks, an Original Six team, back to prominence in the National Hockey League.
That’s what made his firing on Monday surprising to fans, even though the team’s fortunes on the ice have slipped a bit the last few years.
Rocky Wirtz decided it was time for a change, and instead of making a decision more directly associated with on-ice product, he decided to fire longtime president and CEO John McDonough.
On Tuesday, he released his first statement following the move, in which he thanked the organization and fans for their support the last 13 years.
Dear Blackhawks Family and Fans,
Rocky Wirtz gave me an amazing opportunity to preside over the Chicago Blackhawks 12 ½ years ago. It was the ride of a lifetime. I would like to thank Rocky, the Wirtz family, our staff, the players, the ambassadors and the fans for all they have done for the organization. I will be forever grateful to them and proud of what we accomplished together. Blackhawks fans are so incredibly passionate and loyal and are deserving of a consistent winner.
I wish Danny Wirtz well in his new role, and I am confident the organization will have success in the search for a new President.
My late father used a phrase sparingly but impactfully to describe those he found to be the most dignified, respectful and worthy of admiration. He would say they had “class à la mode.” That perfectly describes the Wirtz family and the Chicago Blackhawks.
Good luck. I’ll always be pulling for you.
John F. McDonough
Coming to the team in November of 2007 after a successful tenure as team president with the Chicago Cubs, McDonough oversaw the rebuilding of the Blackhawks on and off the ice.
Led by new stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the team’s fortunes changed after being near the bottom of the Western Conference for a decade. With head coach Joel Quenneville in charge, the Blackhawks won three Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
Those were the first championships for the franchise since 1961.
Off the ice, McDonough was key in transforming the image of the franchise, winning back fans who’d been turned off by the team’s lack of success since moving from Chicago Stadium to the United Center. At the same time, he was able to win a new group of fans with an exciting team and new promotions that helped the Blackhawks return to a prominent spot in the Chicago sports landscape.
Starting with the 2008-2009 season, the team has led the NHL in attendance, and this past November celebrated their 500th consecutive sellout at the United Center.