ROCKFORD — In a surprise reshuffling of the front office during the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Blackhawks cut ties with president and CEO John McDonough.


The move was announced Monday in an official release from Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz.


"Thirteen years ago, I recruited John to the Blackhawks because of his leadership, direction and vision," Wirtz wrote. "John brought all of that to the table and more. His contributions went well beyond leading the team to three Stanley Cup championships. He rebuilt the front office and helped guide the organization toward a winning vision. As difficult as this is, we believe it was the right decision for the future of the organization and its fans."


McDonough has been in charge of the business and hockey side of the organization, but Wirtz may decide to break the duties up in the future. He may even go with his son and interim team president Danny Wirtz to take care of the hockey side.


Major moves afloat for @goicehogs bosses on the @NHLBlackhawks... https://t.co/InUZUCVtRd

— Jay Taft (@JayTaft) April 28, 2020

Why change was needed

After missing the playoffs in eight of nine seasons, McDonough was hired in 2007 and turned things around. The Hawks won three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015) in McDonough’s tenure, and thrived on the business side of things as well, selling out its last 531 games and ranking as the NHL's fourth-most valuable franchise ($1.085 billion) in Forbes in 2019.


But they’ve fallen on tough times — at least on the ice — of late, missing out on the playoffs every year since 2017. They haven’t won a playoff series since the last time they won it all in 2015.


It was clear the Wirtz family was looking for a way to revive the franchise, and starting over near the top was their answer.


"It was a ride of a lifetime," McDonough said in a statement released Tuesday. "Blackhawks fans are so incredibly passionate and loyal and are deserving of a consistent winner."


How will this affect Hogs?

Messages to Hogs general manager Mark Bernard were not returned, but the McDonough firing will most likely not affect the Hogs’ front office hierarchy.


Unless the Hawks decide to give Bernard a promotion.


With the Hogs, Bernard works closely with assistant general manager Nick Anderson as well as executive director Troy Flynn and director of business operations Mike Peck. Bernard and Anderson have handled the hockey side of things well for years, while Flynn and Peck are thriving on the business side as well.


Peck is highly regarded and has been with the organization for 19 years, overseeing all business ops, including ticket and corporate sales. He used to serve as the teams’ play-by-play broadcaster, received the AHL's Ken McKenzie Award in 2016, awarded to the AHL executive who accomplished the most during the season in promoting their team. He was also the recipient of the 2005-06 United Hockey League Public Relations Director of the Year Award and the 2004-05 UHL Broadcaster of the Year Award.


In all likelihood, the Hogs’ well-oiled front office will remain intact after the release of McDonough.


Jay Taft: @jtaft@rrstar.com; @JayTaft