As the Blackhawks continue their search for a new president, perhaps this new person will come from outside of hockey. After all, John McDonough — who was released from the role April 27 — had 24 years of experience with the MLB’s Cubs prior to joining the Blackhawks in 2007, but had no experience in hockey. He was in charge of business operations through the most successful term in Blackhawks history.
Listed below are five potential candidates — in alphabetical order — with experience from other sports who could fill in charge of the Blackhawks business side, should Chicago opt to go that route.
Chip Bowers (former President of Business Operations, MLB’s Marlins; Chief Marketing Officer, NBA’s Warriors)
Serving in important roles with both the Marlins and Warriors recently, Bowers has plenty of experience on both sides of the success scale with different organizations. With the most successful organization in basketball in his tenure, Bowers has plenty of experience around a team like the Blackhawks. He also gained experience in charge of a lackluster team in Miami.
It also shows Bowers has flexibility in terms of sports and could be an ideal fit for the Blackhawks.
Scott Hagel (Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, NFL’s Bears)
With the Bears since 1995, Hagel has plenty of experience with the Chicago media realm and promoting a product to Chicago sports fans. In fact, on this list, Hagel may have the most experience with Chicago fans, and would come from an even larger organization than the Blackhawks. Hagel also has experience working with different demographics and being able to promote sports to new markets, something the Blackhawks could use.
Hagel also teaches a Sports Public Relations course at Northwestern, an expertise one would hope to find in the Blackhawks president.
Sam Hinkie (former President/General Manager, NBA’s 76ers)
The mastermind behind the 76ers’ “The Process,” Hinkie has been out of sports since being fired as GM and president by Philadelphia in 2016. But he’s maintained an interest in management, consulting with various NFL teams and teaching courses at Stanford. Hinkie pushed advanced analytics in basketball with the Rockets under Daryl Morey and with the 76ers, which saw Philadelphia be named the organization that embraced analytics the most by ESPN in 2015. The Blackhawks were first in hockey and 10th overall in that same ranking.
With the Blackhawks needing a rebuild, perhaps the best person to put in charge of it is the man who helped rebuild the 76ers into a contender, especially one Philadelphia fans still have high regard for.
Alex Sugarman (Executive VP, Business Operations and Chief Strategy Officer, MLB’s Cubs)
Sugarman essentially fulfills what the Blackhawks’ president role currently is with the Cubs, and as the effective replacement for McDonough with the Cubs, he would make sense as his replacement with the Blackhawks as well. Sugarman’s role sees him in charge of park operations and development, tasks he would be in charge of with the Blackhawks. He does have two years of experience in hockey as a NHL financial analyst from 2002-04.
Gabrielle Valdez Dow (Vice President of Marketing/Fan Engagement, NFL’s Packers)
Valdez Dow currently has a similar role to how McDonough came up in the baseball world, but unlike McDonough, Valdez Dow possesses previous experience in hockey, working for the Panthers for two years. She’s worked for the Packers in her role in charge of gameday presentation and marketing for six years and before that was in a similar role with the Ravens.
Valdez Dow also teaches a course on sports innovation to MBA students at St. Norbert College.
Who do you think is the best outsider candidate to be the Blackhawks next president?
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Gabrielle Valdez Dow