Blackhawks reducing salaries, furloughing employees during pandemic as ‘in-depth review of organization’ continues

Interim president Danny Wirtz delivered the news to team employees in a Thursday memo.

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The Blackhawks are taking steps to reduce costs while hockey remains on hold.

The Blackhawks are taking steps to reduce costs while hockey remains on hold.

Ben Pope/Sun-Times

The Blackhawks have temporarily reduced salaries and furloughed some employees as the coronavirus pandemic and NHL season shutdown drags into its third month.

The decisions come as part of an “orderly and in-depth” organizational review that the Hawks are currently conducting internally.

Interim team president Danny Wirtz —in one of his first moves in the position —delivered the news to Hawks employees in a Thursday memo obtained by the Sun-Times.

Wirtz, who became interim president when longtime president John McDonough was abruptly fired April 27, wrote that the furloughs and reductions were “difficult but necessary decisions.” He added that the franchise has also taken other steps to minimize expenditures.

“We were fortunate not to have to immediately reallocate our staff or resources in the hopes that this issue would resolve itself quickly,” Wirtz wrote. “Unfortunately, that was not the case and no business can sustain itself for the long-term in this manner.

“The recent tough decisions we have made and the efforts underway will ensure that we turn the corner strong and viable.”

The Hawks have remained on media lockdown since the NHL paused its season March 12, with no players, coaches or front office staff making comment — even after McDonough’s dismissal. Thursday’s memo is one of the only pieces of Hawks news to enter the public sphere since then.

Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz announced in April that Danny Wirtz, his son, would head the team’s search for a new president. Danny Wirtz did not provide an update on that search Thursday but did mention the franchise continues to “pivot in a new direction.”

The Hawks’ “core front office, business and hockey operations teams” have been left intact, the memo adds. Former team website writer Chris Kuc tweeted Friday that he won’t be working for the Hawks moving forward.

The NHL reportedly continues to evaluate numerous plans for resuming the 2019-20 season, with a recent proposal for a 24-team playoff —one which would include the Hawks, which ranked 12th in the Western Conference when the season stopped —gaining steam.

A season resumption would not make up for the Hawks’ lost ticket and concession sale revenue but would provide an influx of money to all 31 teams through the league’s television contract.

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