Blackhawks Dynasty Still Legit, Despite Being Forever Tainted

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The Chicago Blackhawks, during the 2010s, became America’s Team for hockey; there is no denying it. Toiling in obscurity until 2008, when former owner Bill Wirtz died, and his son Rocky took over, they became a classic “started from the bottom now we here” kind of story.

Perennial losers, going nowhere for decades, they then built a dynasty, culminating with Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. However, this month we learned that all of this glory came at a tremendous cost- completely selling their soul, and covering up whatever heinous acts took place within their organ-I-zation.

However, you can’t strip them of their Stanley Cups, because they didn’t do anything wrong, or illegal on the ice. They did everything wrong off the ice, and we can, should and WILL remember that, which forever taints their legacy.

You should absolutely not support this team or this franchise moving forward. With what they have done, there is zero reason for you to give them any of your money, in any way shape or form. If you have the best junior hockey state, keep it for yourself, they don’t even deserve that.

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But they aren’t the Houston Astros, who actually cheated at the game itself, and should thus be stripped of their World Series titles, or at least be stuck with an asterisk.

By now, you’ve almost certainly read or heard about the failures of the Chicago Blackhawks, as a business, a front office, a hockey team and most importantly as human beings, from the very top of the org chart down to the player roster.

(This link has a good summation, and overall explanation, although it was published before the alleged victim was identified. To read the whole 107 page Jenner and Block report, go here)

Their former video coach, Brad Aldrich, was fired as he stands accused of sexually assaulting former player Kyle Beach. This has all lead to seismic changes within this team and beyond it.

Stan Bowman was dismissed as General Manager and President of Hockey Operations, a move that was long overdue, for hockey reasons, even before we saw his moral failings. Al MacIsaac, former Vice President of Hockey Operations, is also gone.

Their former boss, John McDonough, the man who really built the brand behemoth that won those three cups, was already long gone before this. The Waylon Smithers to his Mr. Burns, Jay Blunk, is out too.

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If Bowman, McDonough, Blunk and MacIsaac wish to reenter the league at some point, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that it would require a meeting with him prior to their being able to accept a new job.

It wasn’t just Aldrich’s alleged sexual assault that was potentially criminal behavior here, it was the bullying culture he created and reinforced, with the intention of trying to keep Beach quiet. And for 11 years it worked, because the whole team knew about it, and did nothing.

The NHL announced a fine of $2 million, on the Blackhawks for “inadequate procedures and mishandling.” Obviously, this is just chump change to them, so it amounts to a mere slap on the wrist.

Just like the “punishment” levied by Major League Baseball against the Astros was just a slap on the wrist, and not a deterrent at all.

Blackhawks owner and Chairman, Rocky Wirtz, announced that anyone involved in this incident, which occurred ahead of a Western Conference Finals game against the San Jose Sharks back in 2010, will no longer remain with the organization going forward.

And more ripple effects were felt, as the head coach of that team, Joel Quenneville was dismissed from this current job by the Florida Panthers, this past week. However, he was probably still in charge one more game than he deserved to be, and the Miami based club should have canned him sooner.

And then we have Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was an assistant GM with the Blackhawks when this all went down. For now, he keeps his current job, GM of the Winnipeg Jets.

He released the following statement:

Although, as one Twitter user pointed out here, this is what he really should have said:

Which then leads us to the final group that must be discussed, the players themselves. Several people involved have said that the entire team new, and that includes franchise talisman Patrick Kane and team Captain Jonathan Toews. While Toews was indeed young back then, he was still captain, and thus it falls on him to be a leader.

He failed as a leader then, and now that he’s older and more mature, he’s still failing. Everything he’s said about it in public, now, badly misses the mark.

As for Kane, he is pleading ignorance, for the most part, and that isn’t really all believable. But yes, Kane and Toews must go, period. Forget what Toews said about climate change in 2017, he’s not a progressive stand-up guy by any means.

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As for Bowman, well, he’s a product of nepotism and his fall from grace is just a “market correction.” He never deserved to be as high up as he is/was, so now things are starting to even out. Dale Tallon is the one who actually built the nucleus of the roster that won those titles. All Bowman did was add on a few tweaks, here and there to keep the winning run going a little while longer.

Eventually, he was exposed as a fraud, just like everyone else. No one saw this coming with Quenneville, we all seemed to think he was a solid, stand-up kind of guy, but so much for that.

Kane, well we all had our doubts about his character, for obvious reasons, given all that’s come out in the news about him.

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As for McDonough, well, it’s not hard to find people who have worked closely with him who will see he’s an overall not nice guy. And that is really putting it very very mildly.

Unfortunately, this is just what happens in the world of sports, of business, and the business side of sports. To get to the very top, you often have to be very cutthroat, and that means those who are willing to sell anybody out will often rise to the very pinnacle.

Those who will look the other way, in the name of moving the organization forward, they often ascend up the corporate ladder.

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That’s what we need to remember about this era of Blackhawks hockey. Yes, they won, but they sold their souls to do so. Sometimes the cover-up is worse than the crime, and the Hawks were willing to cover it all up, no matter what the cost.

They should keep their titles, because on the ice, they did nothing wrong. But it’s off the ice that counts, what kind of person you are, not your CV that matters. Removing Aldrich’s name from the Stanley Cup, which absolutely should be done, it just merely scratching the surface.

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This was systemic failure top to bottom.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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