On Wednesday, our CHGO Blackhawks crew of Jay Zawaski, Greg Boysen, and Mario Tirabassi sat down with Chicago Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz and President of Business Operations Jaime Faulkner. We were treated to a very candid conversation covering many different topics, from the past to the future of the team’s logo. After taking it all in, the guys are sharing their biggest takeaways from the chat.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the Blackhawks’ Native American logo and namesake, and it’s clear the organization has as well. While it would be easy to pay lip service and pretend it matters to deflect criticism of the logo, Wirtz and the Blackhawks have put forth genuine efforts to amplify the culture, voices, causes, and concerns of the Sac and Fox Nations, and seem committed to continuing that work for as long as this regime is in charge. They’re listening, and while the team’s logo and namesake have not been verbally prioritized by the Sac and Fox leadership, if it does, it seems as if they’ll act accordingly.
I’m also struck by the transparency that Wirtz, Faulkner, and general manager Kyle Davidson have displayed in their time in charge. During our interview, Faulkner said the name “Connor Bedard” out loud and acknowledged the collective fan freakout after the team’s win over the San Jose Sharks. They are not running from calling this a rebuild. In fact, they’re owning it. Transparency grows trust in the fan base. Whether or not this approach results in another Stanley Cup remains to be seen, but there is a clearly communicated plan, and most of the fans paying attention seem to be on board, according to Faulkner. Anecdotally, I agree. The Blackhawks fans we deal with during our CHGO Blackhawks shows and “in these streets” get the plan. They understand that it will be painful but also understand that it’s the best path to a return to glory.
I was very impressed with how aware both Wirtz and Faulkner are. Not that I didn’t expect it, but so many times when people in their positions speak, you get visions of ivory towers. That is not the case with the Blackhawks’ leadership group. They are listening to the fanbase, not just paying them lip service. Also, they are putting in the work. They are doing the research to make sure they are making well-informed decisions. While you may not agree with all their choices, it is hard to argue with them if they are researched and thought out, not ones of the knee-jerk variety.
As a history lover, I was downright giddy when listening to Wirtz talk about players from the past. I cannot wait to see which alumni are at Friday night’s game versus the Detroit Red Wings. Honoring the past while building towards an exciting future will make these first seasons of the rebuild much easier to enjoy. Now, get Steve Larmer’s No. 28 up in the rafters already!
It continues to be refreshing to hear people at the top of the Blackhawks organization speaking with openness and sincerity. In speaking with Faulkner and Wirtz, it comes across that they actually believe in what they are selling to the fanbase regarding what the Blackhawks are right now, what they are trying to build up to, and the path it will take to get there. In recent years, previous people in their positions tried to tell you one thing about who the Blackhawks were or were trying to be, and your own eyes and ears would tell you differently. The organizational “buy-in” to the rebuilding process and rebranding of the Blackhawks is coming from the top down.
Without saying it, when talking about the Reverse Retro designs and the ideas surrounding alternate jerseys, Faulkner really made it seem like the team will be bringing back the divisively popular all-black alternate jerseys that the team wore in the mid-to-late 1990s and into the 2000s. Consider me a huge fan of this potential development.
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