On Monday, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz made the shocking announcement that John McDonough had been relieved of his duties as president and CEO of the team.
McDonough had served as president of the franchise since 2007 and additionally received the title of CEO in 2011.
Wirtz named his son, Daniel, 43, the team’s interim president as they search for a new leader.
But is that the only move Rocky and company thought was needed to change the culture of the team again? Will more dominoes begin to fall?
Relieving the longtime president of the Hawks, who helped the organization recapture the hearts of its fans and put the team on the top shelf of the hockey world for a decade-plus, was a huge move, but it was more of a business one.
We could also see a shift amongst who controls what happens on the ice with the team. Senior vice president and general manager Stan Bowman is a possibility. He's held the GM title since July of 2009.
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But what about head coach Jeremy Colliton?
Colliton hadn't even completed his first full season behind a big league bench when the NHL paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
His hiring on Nov. 6, 2018, seemed to be a monumental change for the organization at the time. Joel Quenneville, who led the Hawks to three Stanley Cup titles, was fired. Colliton, 33 at the time, became the youngest active head coach in the NHL.
The former Rockford IceHogs coach was seemingly able to get both highly decorated veterans and NHL newcomers to buy in last year after coming in under tough circumstances. Colliton coached the 2018-19 Hawks to within six points of a playoff spot after they were at a 100-point pace from last January to the end of the regular season.
However, this season — after a full training camp — Colliton's Hawks were six points out of a playoff spot through 70 games at the time of the pause, with four teams to jump. They finished behind two last season.
Despite having sensational goaltending from Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner — before he was traded ——the team was even more up and down. Yes, injuries like defenseman Calvin de Haan's proved costly, but Colliton started the 2019-20 season as the team's undisputed head coach. Establishing consistency in the lineup that would spread to the score sheet and standings was up to him.
Maybe to Rocky and company (regardless of what happens with the rest of the 2019-20 season), this year was simply just one full season for Colliton, and he'll have another opportunity to prove himself.
There's even a chance the league implements a 24-team playoff, in which the Hawks would make the postseason cut, if play resumes.
If the firing of McDonough signified a need to change and adjust their future on the business side, wouldn't the Blackhawks have already done so on the hockey side in recently hiring a young coach? Colliton's use of analytics and hefty dose of team video sessions could align with the way the game is evolving, especially on its biggest stage.
Perhaps change isn't needed yet at the head coach position. Maybe it's fair to allow more time to see change from the current occupant of the role.
Or maybe we'll see a complete overhaul with the team, and few will be spared. The level at which the organization desires change and in what areas remains to be seen. Colliton, like others, probably got the message that anything is possible now as he awaits his fate. Stay tuned.
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