Try to forget Devin Hester — at least for the moment. Believe it or not, one other figure on the Chicago sports scene has shown even better moves of late: John McDonough. On November 20 the Cubs’ president left the team to accept the equivalent position with the Blackhawks.
You might be scratching your head. McDonough goes from the Cubs, whom he built into a marketing marvel with the help of his invention of the Cubs Convention, to the Blackhawks, the bereft NHL franchise that has been struggling to draw 10,000 fans a game? Yet even after the Cubs made the playoffs this season, McDonough’s position was precarious with the team up for sale in the Tribune Co. deal. A new owner would no doubt want to move in his or her own people. So McDonough takes the safe money — and he was right to.
It’s no risk to McDonough. He moves to a team overjoyed to have him. But the potential upside is high: to reclaim Chicago, and the United Center, as the home of the Hawks. He has a lot to work with, starting with teen-phenom Hawk rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, and not coincidentally including new Hawk honcho Rocky Wirtz, who has wasted no time overthrowing the Neanderthal legacy of his father, Bill Wirtz. This franchise has immense resources and a sleeping fan base eager to be awakened. Give McDonough credit for picking Lou Piniella as the Cubs’ manager — and even more for picking the Hawks over the Cubs.