It’s probably a story you’ve heard a million times now if you have any sporting inclination, but it should be emphasized. In the spring of 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks were downtown Chicago. Not just Chicago sports, but Chicago. It was a meteoric and shocking growth, just because three years earlier, most of Chicago didn’t even know the Falcons existed. It’s so far that they’ve fallen off the local sports card, not thinking about the national team.
It’s not just his rapid rise from the NHL’s absolute ass to the contenders for the championship. They happened at the same time that the rest of Chicago’s sports were going to the toilets. The Bears have been away for years since their last playoff win or even the playoff dispute, and have just begun their era of whiskey-dick Jay Cutler. The Cubs were also a couple of years away from hiring Theo Epstein and ascending quickly. The White Doctors were at the end of their cycle just before the end of the 2000s and soon became old and decrepit. The Bulls had drafted Derrick Rose, but they hadn’t even had relevance for the NBA in some time. For a city that defines itself through its sports teams, the Falcons were the only thing to stick to.
And the Falcons weren’t shy about telling everyone how special they were, and how special they thought they were. They had two fresh-faced stars in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane who were everywhere (which led to their problems, and we’ll get to those). But they had all the supporting characters that fans could easily attack. Like rapper-in-his-mind Kris Versteeg, or loving giant teddy bear Dustin Byfuglien, or fun-in-a-so-deviousness Dave Bolland, or maybe-a-serial-killer Duncan Keith. Personality everywhere. And the Falcons heard those guys where they could. Ads, billboards, web videos, and TV segments on any topic – you can’t escape them. And no one wanted her.
And no one has exhibited this more than the team president, John McDonough, who pushed all these players off stage, but no one else so that he himself. If he had a camera and a microphone, McDonough would jump in front of him to tell you what good work he had done to revitalize the franchise.
The thing was, the Falcons hadn’t really done anything. Nothing that anyone else wouldn’t have understood. When Rocky Wirtz inherited the team from his father, Bill, after he passed away in 2007, they were in such a mess that even the weakest of the movement looked brilliant. Also splashing on free agents, as Hawks did under his new property signing Brian Campbell, Cristobal Huet, and Marián Hossa to tackle the business in the span of a year, which had already begun under The Old Man. Bill Wirtz had been famous for his frugality, but after the installation of the salary cap, he had gone to a level roughly equal to all the others. While the names Nikolai Khabibulin and Adrian Aucoin are punchlines now, at the time they were big ticket items signed just by The Great Bettman Lockout II. Next summer the Falcons traded him to Martin Havlát and signed him to a three-year deal (at the time). This was not really a departure.
So what made the Falcons think so brilliant? Do you play games at home on TV? Are you currently marketing your team and its players? Does it at least show a willingness to care about fans? Even the presentation of the game at United Center was elevated, as McDonough spent his first year at work traveling to every other arena and copying what he enjoyed. All of this was Sports Business 101, if not the remedy class. They certainly haven’t figured out the bottom that falls on any other Chicago team. It was only because of the archaic and obstinate way that the franchise had been under Bill Wirtz that it seemed revolutionary under Rocky.
Even the list, which is the heart of his collection of three Stanley Cups, was essentially passed on to the young Wirtz. All the players were in the organization before Bill died. Years of sweeping on the ice have brought only enough cutting edge projects that even the Falcons ’GMs – Mike Smith and later Dale Tallon – could accumulate enough talent to build a juggernaut. Then they hit two top-three consecutive picks in Toews and Kane, which not everyone does, to be fair. But all that was done before Rocky and McDonough called the shots.
But that didn’t stop him from exalting himself. And there is nothing worse than the arrogance built on the sand, because the insecurity and the syndrome of the impostor who gets stuck in that arrogance only makes him more sinister, and the desire to surround the wagons to protect that empty shell becomes stronger.
So you don’t need it transcript of the May 2010 meeting with McDonough, GM Stan Bowman, assistant GM Al McIsaac, and fitness coach James Gary, where allegations that video coach Brad Aldrich had sexually assaulted two Hawks players they were brought to his attention. You know what essentially was said.
Nothing prevents us from doing what we do here. Nothing will dampen our spotlights, even if we haven’t really done anything about it. So the clamps were put on, these charges were stuck in the luggage with the lid closed, and because of that we know that a child will later be assaulted. And because we know how these things tend to go, it’s almost certainly not safe.
Arrogance had always been on the agenda for the Falcons under McDonough, and even after his shot last year. It was evident in everything they did as they went to two other Cups and then watched that everything fell apart in the last five years. It was evident in the way they handled Kane’s assault on a taxi driver in 2009. They assured us that they would take care of him, because there was nothing they could do. Didn’t you see how they had transformed this team altogether? His lack of treatment for this led to Kane drunk-a-palooza in Madison in 2012, where he allegedly strangled a girl at a party and was accused of anti-Semitic comments afterwards. The Hawks assured us they could handle it. Three years later Kane was charged with rape.
It was his empty arrogance, and McDonough’s, that made him start his introductory press conference on the training ground – with Kane still under investigation – having McDonough first list all of the team’s successes in the last five years. . Don’t you see what really matters? It was that arrogance that caused them filter to EJ Hradek that they did not want Kane in the training camp while he was being investigated, and later stated, after the moment that they were not charged months later, that they knew he was still innocent. They want you to believe that the two things could be simultaneously true.
It was his arrogance that allowed him to make Garret Ross return to his minor league team after defeating the accusation of revenge porn for a technicality, not because he was not guilty, a move that absolutely angered the victim. It was the arrogance that saw him not only refuse to change his name and logo after the Washington Football Team and Cleveland had decided, but to double and they say they can handle their name and logo as a force for good. Even if u current story of Chief Black Hawk it’s pretty awful.
It was the arrogance that led this to become a story now. While it’s not even the most ardent aspect, it’s mystifying how the Falcons could let two lawsuits totaling $ 150,000 go right into this story. For a sports team, $ 150k is the change you find in various slots on your car’s console. These processes could have been set up some time ago, for five to ten times that amount, and they were never noticed. But their arrogance meant they needed a complete exemption. Anyone trying to dent their armor should be stamped. Look where he got them.
It turned out that everything McDonough was actually good at taking credit for things he didn’t really do, and intimidating lower-level employees. Which is clearly what he did here to silence the allegations against Aldrich. And yet every player seemed to know.
His tentacles stretched far away. Marc Bergevin was director of that team’s player staff in 2010, though he claims today that he didn’t know it. It seems hard to believe given how many others have done it. Kevin Chevyldayoff, GM of Winnipeg, was GM’s assistant at the time as well. Joel Quenneville is a coach in Florida.
But the NHL doesn’t even want to know. This is his showcase time, and much like McDonough didn’t let his time shine, you can imagine that Gary Bettman now feels the same way. There is also this impression among visionless sports leaders that they can also control the narrative. The Hawks were the apple of the NHL’s eye, an example of how any team or market could become a hockey market with the right steps. They made the NHL more popular than it had ever been. Suddenly, the league’s fourth-largest market was not a black hole or an embarrassment, but the league’s flagship on the hill. The NHL was almost certainly no less dizzy when the Kings made history a couple of years later in their second biggest market. Funny how you never hear about Drew Doughty’s rape case, right?
Feel that Adam Silver would force Wirtz to sell the team for something similar. Bettman will not. Not after all did they come out of the Falcons. Rocky will claim he never knew, that McDonough kept him. Bowman and McIsaac can be fired. Maybe they can be saved on the basis of following only orders from high. How many times has it been a refuge from evil? McDonough is already out of work. It will cost nothing to unload everything at his feet for the Hawks and the NHL.
But everyone will see for what they are now. That’s what they’ve always been.