CHICAGO – Blackhawks players and fans should hoist a glass tonight.
It was ten years ago to the day that Rocky Wirtz took control of this end of the family business and stole John McDonough from the Cubs.
“I had no intention to leave the Cubs. I knew that it was going through the sale process. Sam Zell was in the mix. This was prior to the Ricketts. But, I felt strongly enough that I would have a very good position there for years to come and possibly retire as a member of the Cubs organization.”
We all know what’s happened since – what Forbes Magazine called The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever.
And McDonough’s fingerprints are all over it.
“The mission that I gave our director of human resources is ‘give me great but people who want to be great collaboratively within our organization.'”
With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the on-ice product was beginning to sizzle.
During the 2009 Western Conference Finals, McDonough saw signs that told him the Blackhawks were back.
“Someone from the 300-level unfurled a banner and it just simply said ‘The Pride is Back.’ It was very, very emotional. I have a picture of it in my office. It kind of was the eclamation point on ‘Okay. They’re going to give us a chance.'”
Today, virtually nothing is the same as it was a decade ago:
Blackhawks ambassadors offering a bridge to past glory, the Hawks frequent appearances in the NHL Outdoor Series, the annual summer fan convention – a McDonough staple, new office and practice facilities.
This is a president and CEO in perpetual motion, always with an eye on what matters most.
“People really love the experience of coming to the United Center. The greatest and the greatest marketing idea of all-time is winning. Nothing will ever replace that.”