Inside Look: John McDonough - Part 2
Sat, 31 Mar 2012|
John McDonough reflects on his early days with the Blackhawks including the decision to replace Denis Savard with Joel Quenneville and getting the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field - 3/31
Welcome back to inside look Jon picked up presented by -- More. Morgan. In your room for. For both. But we ask that question. Give me three to five items that when you walked in the store 2007. This is part of that seismic changes that have to happen. Number one get out of the grudge business. There were grudges with former players who were grudges with -- former broadcasters I didn't feel that the chemistry within the organization. Was very good. We needed to -- this building every night we had to make sure that the product on the ice was really strong. We had to make Chicago a destination. For free agent we had. This is the greatest city in the world. We have that is an advantage we should utilized that. But so much of this is how you comport yourself how you treat your players. This is a Major League franchise and I felt we needed improvement and all of that who was it more difficult convinced to. Come back to the Blackhawks Bobby Hull. -- -- -- Bobby. Was. A knock down drag out fifteen round fight that. Pat Foley. Was two heavyweight bouts really tougher absolutely. Originally. Pat wanted nothing to do -- I think the Warner was still fresh but I remember when I called pat. And I think you said you gotta be kidding me. Do you have do you know how this thing ended when pat decided that he was going to come back. I think that was yet another step forward for this franchise because pat Foley is in major difference maker to get home games on TV it was a family decision. Did Rocky -- you. Under but the games are home TV or did you have to talk him into that. No as a matter of fact -- and the original interview if it's Rocky had said. That you know we've got to. Gradually slowly. We didn't to the television thing I would have been out it just wouldn't have worked for me coming from the Cubs were your games are and some days are on national. Television. You know again with a great partnership we have with Comcast as well. It's a trio commercial for your product -- 162 days a year so -- the television thing had not. Then their -- that was my first question my absolute first question Iraqis were talking about every single game televised home. Road playoffs everything. And he said absolutely. Your first tonight in this. Building I think on record you say ten. I hear I hear that may not be exactly accurate the bottom line is in the building with less than half field as a marketing guy. That must of just. Hate it should. I wasn't sure we had the right start time. When I saw -- -- -- -- the gentleman I'm not sure Christian Nielsen on the first night I don't believe otherwise. But when he came out sang the anthem I looked at the clock and I knew it was in the -- about 6000 people in the building again I felt that. This is going to be an incredible challenge but that is is really what. For me it it it's really what charges me and end. I remember we had gone on a pretty good run in the attendance was going from six to nine to twelve to fourteen. And we played them I think you might have been in January for war. And we -- and won a few in a row and we might hit thirteen or 141000 people here and remembering I called. Dale talons car on the way home and I. You know I call them just to simply say I apologize. I said you know I feel is -- money you down the organizations let you down. Your putting this product on the ice and -- enough people paying attention to it and that is going to change. Perfect example of a big picture decision. That wasn't popular at the time. Was dismissal does apart. Take us through that process. Not an easy process because of Friday the person who Denis Savard is I would argue that Denis Savard is the classy as the athlete. I have ever met one of the classy as people I have I have ever met. And down. We had a bit of a rough training camp and we did not get out of the gate well at all. And there were conversations that I had had with with dale. And with the others in the hockey operations side and we felt at that point people would say well the timing wasn't right it was too early in the season. Well there really is never perfect timing for any for for for for any of that. But I think that was the point right absolutely -- had to separate myself from the marketing side of it this again was what we felt that time was was with which was best in the long term interest. Of the Blackhawks this tough of a decision as it was. And as difficult as it was for Blackhawks fans that we had just. Welcome back and embrace. You know too fired Denis Savard was a very very difficult message to deliver. But Dennis says he is has been so consistently he handled and such and such a classy fashion. But we have to look past the marketing side of that decision. While trying to change the culture of the franchise McDonough was also tried to change how the Hawks were viewed by the rest of the NHL. Step one persuading commissioner Gary Bettman to allow Chicago to host the winter classic. Has. A lot of time with the commissioner Bettman on the phone and in person. And I think I hit a bit of an advantage I think Bud Selig might have placed the call I'm on my behalf. Before I came out to CMX I had not met Gary before that and I just told him I think Chicago would be a great destination I sensed things are coming alive we love that opportunity. But at that point they had been in negotiations with the Yankees and I didn't know where it was going I think it was scheduled to be the last event. A Yankee Stadium I was strategically called Gary. And I would start with -- three other things and tried to skillfully we'd been we'd like to get the winter classic. Penny would finally say Johnny Syria enough is enough when we announced that we had secured the winter classic. I never realized that it was going to be a tidal wave of interest tidal wave of interest people were buying season tickets. In increments of eight to twelve at that time. And there is only going to be one game. You know they were buying season tickets for the entire season but our obligation what was then we need to keep these people when they have a chance to experience the Warner classic. You come to the games here at the United Center we just have to make sure that the product is strong what did. Bringing Scotty Bowman. The Blackhawks as a senior advisor mean to this franchise and getting it back on its feet. It's such a good question I don't know if I can give you an answer the only answer that I can give you at it is it's Scotty Bowman. Period. So when I -- Call Jimmy go on from the Red Wings and I asked permission to talk. To Scottie about coming back coming to the Blackhawks as -- senior advisor. I really. Didn't expect him to say yes. I thought it would didn't Johnny's been a big part of the scene here in Detroit we won multiple cups. Scott is Jimmy called and oh is very comfortable being with a true or red wings now stand had been going through. Some cancer treatment -- and have a pretty big help ordeal at the time. And Jimmy was very sensitive to that. And he also felt that at that time. It was probably more appropriate. For Scotty to be with his son and also. Provide another opportunity for Scotty with the Chicago Blackhawks. I think when people see someone come on as a senior. Your advisor or are. An ambassador or what have you. They they think their role with the team is limited. How extensive early on it was all mean in some of the major decisions that took place in the hot. I think he was consulted. On everything. You would be foolish if you didn't get his opinion. Scotty to this day is as well connected and has as good a grasp on the NHL. Currently. As anyone in the league. Probably stronger relationships. Has a better feel for this industry than anybody so we would have been foolish to bring him -- -- senior advisor and not utilize them. So that doesn't mean that everything that he would encourage us to do or advise us or advise. Standard -- or whoever was that we would do but we certainly felt more comfortable getting his opinion. So it's always don't nine. We've had the successful. Wrigley Field experience. The team has gone of the Western Conference finals. The the building is jumping it's the place to be. And you decide. To reassign -- talent. Take me through that decision making process. And that was a decision that that probably took place over about a three or four month period. -- is a great assessor of talent. To it really wonderful job when he was here. I thought that we needed to be more responsible. Not only on. These financial side of it. But one we were making decisions that decisions would kind of be made collectively. And that the hockey operations people would buy into them collectively. And they would land on those decisions. It was again not an easy decision to make. But it was one that I felt. At the time it was in the best long term interest of the Chicago Blackhawks. And also at the same time I felt that Stan Bowman was ready for the challenge ready for the opportunity. Stan was very. Analytical. Very. Thorough. Very responsible. -- great consensus builder captain to a lot of people. For every decision. That he would make. In more consistent. For what I was looking for a general manager. Up next. Arrived on the streets of Chicago turns into a ride down memory lane. I needed to savor that moment I never want that parade right now.