Rozner: Blackhawks' Kane pays tribute to McDonough

  • Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane, left, had a special relationship with former team president John McDonough. "He had some tough conversations with me, for sure. That helped me become a better player, a better person, to mature a little faster than maybe I would have," Kane said.

    Chicago Blackhawks Patrick Kane, left, had a special relationship with former team president John McDonough. "He had some tough conversations with me, for sure. That helped me become a better player, a better person, to mature a little faster than maybe I would have," Kane said. AP File Photo

 
 
Updated 6/14/2020 5:50 PM

There were plenty of times early in his career that Patrick Kane acted like a kid who might never reach his potential.

But he was just a 19-year-old kid when he got here -- and an immature one at that. He was living life large and not always in charge of his direction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

It sounds now like one of the reasons he was able to get it together was the influence of former Blackhawks president John McDonough.

"Our relationship was maybe a little bit different than others," Kane said during a conference call. "He had some tough conversations with me, for sure. That helped me become a better player, a better person, to mature a little faster than maybe I would have.

"One thing about John is he always had your best interests at heart. Whether he was tough on you or not, he wanted the best for you as a person, not specifically the hockey player."

And Kane was as shocked as anyone that McDonough was relieved of his duties in late April.

"It was surprising. John is an amazing man," Kane said. "I called him and thanked him for everything he did for me personally and for the organization. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for him."

To listen to the Hawks on Thursday left little doubt that Danny Wirtz is now running the show, with Rocky in the vicinity. In the meantime, and especially with playoffs on the calendar, it has been mostly business as usual in the front office.

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"We're in the midst of a season and we're preparing to restart and join the playoffs," GM Stan Bowman said on the Thursday video conference. "As far as reshaping the team, that probably would happen in the offseason and we'll have more discussions about next year's team when we get to next year.

"In the short term, the discussions I've had with Rocky and Danny have been very optimistic, very positive. Looking forward to trying to innovate and change some things for the positive from the business side and the hockey side.

"The discussions recently have been focused a little bit more on the business side, but once we get to the offseason we'll tackle the hockey part, talk about what the future years look like."

Bowman and head coach Jeremy Colliton also went out of their way to thank McDonough, who gave both their big break in the business.

"John was in a lot of ways a mentor for me. I learned so much from him," Bowman said. "He gave me the opportunity to take this role so I'll always be appreciative of that. He was great support to me and he did a lot of great things for the organization. I thank him from that perspective.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've known Danny Wirtz for a few years now and I've had a chance over the last six weeks to work closely with him and Rocky as well. They've been fantastic to me.

"I look at this as an opportunity to learn from Danny. Very bright guy, very energetic, has a lot of ideas. He's included me in a lot of things over the last few weeks and I look forward to collaborating with him.

"I certainly enjoyed my time with John, but I'm excited to work with Danny and Rocky. They've been very successful in all of their businesses and for me it's an opportunity to continue to grow."

After thanking McDonough, Colliton said of Danny Wirtz, "He's going to bring some new ideas and energy to the organization and I've been a part of some of that already and that's been exciting and that gives you energy.

"We have to keep getting better and we have to improve and it's going to challenge us all, but in the day-to-day, my job is to prepare the team for Edmonton."

After 13 years here, the 31-year-old Kane made a point that is sometimes forgotten after all that's happened since Bill Wirtz died.

"The one thing is," Kane said, "you always trust Rocky Wirtz."

Hard to argue with that.

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