McDonough’s firing another case of ‘What have you done for me lately?’
The three Stanley Cup titles that came while McDonough was overseeing things are a legacy that always will shine brightly, but the Hawks have given us blah lately.
The thing that never ceases to amaze me about life is that the people who grind the sausage eventually get ground up themselves.
Chicago politicians — male and female — head off to jail. Big shots at Enron do time. The raccoon that ate the frog that ate the spider that ate the fly is splattered on the shoulder of the highway.
In sports, this evolutionary reduction is a constant happening.
For example, John McDonough, who presided over the most thrilling, dynamic period in Blackhawks history — three Stanley Cup championships in six seasons — was spun through the grinder Monday by owner Rocky Wirtz.
McDonough, the president of the Hawks for 12½ years, shockingly got his walking papers from Wirtz the same way so many employees got theirs from McDonough himself through the years.
I always wonder how people feel when they see the person who axed them get the ax themselves. Me, I’ve never actually been fired from anything, though there have been times when the blade was swinging close enough to my neck for a nice shave.
But I was a freelance writer for a number of years at the start of my career, and each rejection of an idea I had or a story, treatment or earnest outline I wrote was like a knife through my heart. The pain is so well-remembered. It was like a chunk of my worth was removed and never returned.
McDonough wrote an online farewell statement on official Blackhawks Media Advisory stationery, and it was courteous and upbeat. The Hawks are, as McDonough’s father once told him of dignified objects, ‘‘class a la mode.’’
He wished Wirtz’s son Danny, now the Hawks’ interim president, all the best and added: ‘‘I am confident the organization will have success in the search for a new president.’’
After you cut through McDonough’s happy tone — he previously was a sales and marketing whiz with the Cubs and was credited with starting the wildly popular Cubs Convention, remember — you might think this: Maybe the new president is sitting in the chair right now.
Danny Wirtz is, after all, a Wirtz. He’s a sharp guy and has his fingers in a lot of ventures, including the massive Wirtz Beverage Group. It’s also possible he might not want to be the Hawks’ president.
But one thing’s for sure with the McDonough firing: Rocky Wirtz, the man who hired him away from the Cubs in 2007, is a billionaire who is going to keep the Hawks in the family — and keep them close.
The three Stanley Cup titles that came while McDonough was overseeing things are a legacy that always will shine brightly. But it might never happen again.
Putting together ice geniuses such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith with a coach such as Joel ‘‘The Mustache’’ Quenneville — that in itself is a type of genius.
But it goes fast, that glory. What have you done for us lately, sir? It’s the mantra of pro sports. And the Hawks have given us blah lately.
Their combined record the last three seasons is 101-103-30, and they were seventh, sixth and seventh (when the season was halted last month) in their seven-team division. The axman will cometh after that.
And McDonough’s head-rolling might have been a shock to many fans — the Hawks haven’t even played a game in more than six weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic — but when a scapegoat is needed, well, you look around to see who’s available.
Coach Jeremy Colliton? He was just hired in November 2018.
General manager Stan Bowman? Possibly, but his dad is Scotty Bowman, the Hawks’ senior adviser of hockey operations.
Executive vice president Jay Blunk? He was tight with McDonough, always his right-hand man, even with the Cubs. But he wasn’t the main guy. He likely is going to have to pledge his fealty to the Wirtzes.
Indeed, the inside word is that McDonough wanted to treat the Hawks as his team, as in his. That never sits well when a family-run venture wants to circle its own wagons, run off the infidels, hoist its flags.
Rocky Wirtz is putting his rich arms around this hockey thing, saying, in essence: ‘‘This was my grandfather’s, my dad’s, mine, my son’s, and it will stay with us through the ages.’’
That’s his right — just as he dumped McDonough’s favorite ad agency, Ogilvy, for his son’s own venture, a start-up called Varyer that is run by former Pitchfork music guys. It stays in the family. The Wirtz empire grows and grows.
And the sausage grinder grinds on.