I wonder if anyone would have attended a Chicago Blackhawks fan convention, if they had one a few years ago. The idea came immediately after President John McDonough's arrival in 2007 from the Cubs, and it won over fans in a heartbeat.
McDonough received a warm welcome and Forbes magazine has called the Hawks "the greatest sports-business turnaround ever." Before, the franchise was an afterthought, but now they are an important part of the city and the fan convention is sold-out this weekend. Yet, as fun as it will prove to be, it will be interesting to see how the crowd will react to the last month.
This has already been a roller-coaster offseason for the Blackhawks. The fans loved Martin Havlat and Nikolai Khabibulin, but both of those players have been lost to free agency. Yet that day, the fans seemed okay with those losses because all-star Marian Hossa agreed to a contract with Chicago. Then, just this week, the Hawks fired general manager DaleTallon, replacing him with assistant GM Stan Bowman.
While that move could have been predicted, with Stan's father Scotty now with the organization as well, it may not be a move that is popular with the fans. This happened when Chicago fired head coach Denis Savard and replaced him with Joel Quenneville early last season. The crowd obviously came to enjoy Quenneville with the success that the team had, and that will happen with the GM move if the team continues to win.
Yet, we are not at that point yet. People still realize that Tallon drafted young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. He also played a big role in signing Hossa. It seems that the issue of late paperwork when re-signing some players dug him in a hole, but even McDonough says that is not all that contributed to Tallon's demotion.
Well, what else is there? McDonough and Tallon probably did not see eye-to-eye, but some of the fans were in support of Tallon. Others were not, so again, this will add to the captivating weekend. McDonough said himself that he wanted the decision on Tallon made before the convention, so there would not be as many questions. It will not matter when the fans are receiving autographs from the players, but you will get a certain mood from the fans during the question/answer session.
A few years ago, none of these issues would have mattered. There was no convention, and even if there was, it would not have a lot of people there. Now, though, fans care what this organization does. This makes for an interesting weekend at the Hilton Chicago.