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One Goal III Excerpt: The Blackhawks Way

by Bob Verdi / Chicago Blackhawks

The following is an excerpt from "One Goal III: The Inside Story of the 2015 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks." The book goes on sale Tuesday, Nov. 10 at all Blackhawks Store locations or shop.nhl.com.



“If people want to call us a dynasty, that’s fine,” [President and CEO John] McDonough said. “But you will never hear that from our staff or in our building. We are in the business of winning, and I don’t want us to be measured over a relatively brief period of six years.

“I grew up with the Boston Celtics and UCLA basketball. The Detroit Red Wings have qualified for the playoffs in 24 consecutive seasons. No other team has a run like that going, in any league. That means they’ve had a chance to win the Stanley Cup in 24 straight seasons. This is what we want to do here with the Blackhawks. We want to give our fans a chance to have a Stanley Cup over decades and decades because that’s what they deserve.

“That is our goal: continued excellence. That’s why, although we celebrate today what our team has accomplished, we move on to do better the next day. We are humble but still hungry; proud but never satisfied. We are on a nice run, yes. It’s a pretty good start.”

The foundation for this “pretty good start” is an unyielding all-in-this-together mantra that results in what McDonough describes as almost a “collegial” atmosphere between the business side and hockey operations. Their responsibilities differ, but not their objectives, and it is apparent even from a distance.

“When I played here, the players were close,” said Pat Stapleton, a star Blackhawks defenseman from 1965 to 1973. “But we were never close with management. There was a division between both sides. I sense that it’s the complete opposite now.”

Alas, there was no alternative when Wirtz assumed control of a moribund franchise in the fall of 2007, then decided he would not take no for an answer from McDonough, a decorated executive with the Cubs.

“I tip my hat to our players,” said Executive Vice President Jay Blunk, who joined the Blackhawks a couple months later. “We were underdogs, and they embraced that mentality. We had to fight our way out of a deep, dark hole, and we didn’t know whether we’d ever make it. When Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook came here, the building was half empty. Then came Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. They too bought in. We had to be different—friendly, likable, accessible, out in the community.

“It was hard. We were off the radar. When Jonathan showed up, we had to correct some media. They pronounced his name ‘Toes.’ We had lost generations, but now, because of these guys, all those millennials love this team. Social media. Website. Our TV ratings are through the roof, and that doesn’t count bars and restaurants where people gather to watch games like it’s a civic event. We can’t pay our players to come to the Convention because it counts against the cap. But there’s Toews and so many others because they feel an obligation. They feed off our fans at the United Center.”

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