NHL's Blackhawks axe veteran team chief McDonough

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Chicago Blackhawks president and chief executive John McDonough was sacked on Monday, with team management saying they wanted to use the coronavirus shutdown to set a new course for the National Hockey League franchise.

McDonough, a pillar of sports in Chicago who had spent 25 years with the Chicago Cubs baseball team before joining the Blackhawks in 2007, was widely credited with helping transform the NHL outfit.

Under McDonough the Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013 and 2015, comfortably the most successful era in the team's history.

However, in a statement on Monday Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said the suspension of the NHL season had prompted a rethink.

"Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision," Wirtz said.

"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.

"As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans."

McDonough was also instrumental in turning the Blackhawks into a commercial juggernaut. The team had sold out a record 531 consecutive home games prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.

Wirtz said the coronavirus crisis and the league suspension had prompted a review of the team's management.

"While we can reassure our fans there will be hockey again, no one knows what that will look like," Wirtz said.

"What we do know is that it will take a new mindset to successfully transition the organization to win both on and off the ice."

Wirtz's son Danny Wirtz, 43, will serve as interim team president as the hunt for McDonough's replacement gets under way, a statement said.