First-ever honorary CHP designation to be awarded to John F. McDonough, President & CEO Chicago Blackhawks

Most hockey fans know the Chicago Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups since 2010 – the closest thing to a dynasty the NHL has seen in decades. And they know the names of great Blackhawks stars like Kane, Toews, and Keith.

Even though the architect of all this glory doesn’t enjoy the same Q-Rating as the guys on skates, Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough is a business star in his own right. In 2009, even before the silverware started to pile up in Chicago, Forbes magazine lauded McDonough as the driver of “the greatest sports-business turnaround ever.” Hired by Chicago Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz in 2007, McDonough grabbed the NHL’s most moribund franchise by the collar and dragged it from “worst to first” in just over two years, on the ice and on the balance sheet.

That’s why the Business of Hockey Institute (BHI), and its academic partner Athabasca University (AU), have chosen John McDonough to receive the first-ever honorary Certified Hockey Professional (CHP) designation. The CHP designation is a new professional standard created by BHI to serve the hockey think tank’s mission: “to improve the economic viability of professional and amateur hockey through education, research, consulting, and advocacy.” To this end, the CHP designation works toward four specific objectives:

1. Identify and recognize the executives and managers whose efforts make it possible for others to play and watch the most exciting sport on the planet.
2. Encourage talented executives and managers to pursue a career in the hockey business.
3. Create a pool of draft-ready managerial talent to staff hockey-related organizations.
4. Improve the economic viability of professional and amateur hockey.

BHI confers this professional designation on graduates of AU’s Online MBA for executives with hockey-specific courses. Holders of other graduate level business degrees can also earn the CHP designation by completing the six senior graduate level courses that cover the hockey-related topics offered through AU.

McDonough will receive this distinctive honour at the PrimeTime Sports & Entertainment Conference in Toronto on November 13, 2016, which takes place on the weekend of the NHL Hall of Fame induction ceremony. He will also deliver the keynote address the following day to a roomful of sports business achievers eager to hear how he transformed the Blackhawks.

There is some irony in the fact that BHI’s first Certified Hockey Professional was originally a baseball man. McDonough spent 24 years with the Chicago Cubs, rising to become the team’s President and building one of the strongest business operations in Major League Baseball. The homegrown Chicago boy applied the same principles when he moved from Wrigley Field to the United Center. Under McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks’ innovative “One Goal” campaign used a variety of media platforms to put a human face on each of their players and instill passion and loyalty in a burgeoning fan base.

The CHP is the latest in a slew of business, community, and academic honours conferred on John McDonough. He’s earned the respect of his peers not just for his marketing wizardry, but also for his commitment to his community. Herb Pinder, Chair of the Business of Hockey Institute, says it best, “John is the role model for anyone working in professional sports and this is exactly what the honorary CHP was created to recognize. His example is what every hockey executive and leader should attempt to emulate.”


Join us as we celebrate John and the many amazing things he has done for the game and for the business of hockey. Enjoy the opportunity to connect and engage with some of hockey’s top insiders in the business! This event will be hosted by Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman and occurs as part of the Primetime Sports & Entertainment Welcome Reception on Sunday, November 13 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Toronto Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. Tickets are available here.