Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bill Wirtz (1929-2007)

Bill Wirtz died early Wednesday morning. Condolences to the family of the man who owned the Blackhawks and congratulations to the few remaining fans who will admit to still following the team.

I know it sounds insensitive, but if we are going to pass ourselves off as being in the truth business, then the truth is that the greatest impediment to the Hawks success was the Hawks owner, one of the worst in sports history from a fan's standpoint and the man who almost singlehandedly killed hockey interest in this city.
A man has died, something that I find makes it hard to poke fun of the situation, but Rosenbloom does get to the heart of the matter here as it relates to sports.

A man of incredible wealth, with interests in real estate, banking and insurance, Wirtz's family bought the Blackhawks in 1954, and in four decades as team president, he became one of hockey's true villains for penny-pinching the team into its current near-death state. Several 'Hawks legends will have nothing to do with the franchise due to the way they were treated on the way out, and that's a crying shame.

It's long been said that the only way Chicago would experience a rebirth would be if Wirtz died and the team was sold, and now that we're at that point, the speculation has already begun to come. Rosenbloom suggests wealthy Chicago Wolves (AHL) owner Don Levin, who had made overtures in recent years about buying Major League Baseball's Cubs.

Makes sense to me.

Whoever takes over the team, or even if the Wirtz family decides to hold on, here's hoping we see the Blackhawks rise again and finally begin to rebuild their tattered fan base.



At 12:25 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Keith said...

This news deserves a popular song sung at sporting events:

"Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey! Hey! Hey! Goodbye"

At 12:32 p.m., September 26, 2007, Blogger BlackCapricorn said...

They have the young talent mixed with scoring veterans to really do some damage in the coming years. Hopefully the management will allow them to build on what looks like a promising start.

At 12:45 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In tribute to their late father, the Wirtz family is apparently blacking out the funeral for local TV, and instead putting it on PPV.

At 12:58 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous David Johnson said...

A rejuvenation of the Chicago Blackhawks franchise would go a long way to raising the awareness of hockey in the United States, at least in the longer-term hockey markets. I still recall the days when the Blackhawks, Red Wings and Blues were great rivals in the Norris division. Bettman can focus all he wants on the Nashville's, Carolina's, and Phoenix's of the world, but rejuvenating those rivalries will do far more for hockey than anything in Phoenix and Nashville and Carolina can.

At 1:14 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Conrad said...

This is an enormous opportunity for those who want to own a franchise. It's one thing to move a team to a new market or steer an expansion team. Those involve quite a bit of risk. But to take over a major sports franchise in one of the biggest sports markets in the world, in a city that has a world series and a Superbowl appearance in the last couple of years...that's huge. Mark Cuban should get in on this.

At 2:48 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

In tribute to their late father, the Wirtz family is apparently blacking out the funeral for local TV, and instead putting it on PPV.

Simultaneously tasteless and hilarious. :)

This would DEFINITELY be a great buy as a team. It's like getting a run-down ramshackle old farmhouse on an overgrown and neglected piece of property, but once a lot of work is put in the thing has a vineyard on the lot, solid oak flooring throughout, and stained glass windows in the foyer. There is no need to "build a fan base" because it is already there, it's just in supended animation.

(Plus they'd be a lot cheaper than the Cubbies!)

At 3:39 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous beingbobbyorr said...

A man has died, a situation that I find makes it hard to poke fun of the situation

Why? Who's being offended? Surely he and his family already heard the jabs and barbs while he was alive (a website called "" or some variation thereof comes to mind). As the journalist said: they're in the truth business, and the truth doesn't stop being true just because Bill's about to become worm food.

At 5:20 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Jeff said...

I think the fact that I went to your blogroll to find a Blackhawks blog for reaction and found none says everything.

At 8:05 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chicago has an NHL team? Since when?

At 9:44 p.m., September 26, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The good news is that the U.S. estate tax means whichever of his children - legitimate or otherwise - stands to inherit his ill-gotten gains will be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars, meaning the Hawks will likely be sold to a family not in the Norris-family-byatch business.
The Blackhawks have been, for 50 years, the saddest sack of manure in the NHL. I wouldn't be surprised if Blackhawks fans held a parade to celebrate Wirtz' overdue demise.

At 9:53 p.m., September 26, 2007, Blogger Black Dog said...

He may be gone but ass long as Pulford is there nothing will change - if the sons hang onto the club and he gets their ear nothing will change.

At 4:52 p.m., October 01, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. i mean i had my moments with Wirtz but really: "Wirtz’ death is a good thing” " parade instead of a funeral"

what is wrong with you?
have you no value for life?
this man had a family, a wife, kids all who loved him, and now they can't.

try and take a minute, walk away from your computer, put the gamepad down, go out , smell some fresh air, and be glad your wife, your kid, your mom or dad is in the next room or at the very least alive. THEN go get a life.

Yes his stewardship with the hawks is arguable, so what?

That’s your point?

A line repeated ad nauseum for 30 years…

Unfortunately for the commentors here, the reality of your ignorance becomes apparent.

Yes, the Hawks have suffered.
BUT the man gave and gave and GAVE to charities, endlessly.
Didn't know that?

Did you hear him taking credit for Miracle on Ice, of which he helped build? of course not.
Did you hear him bragging about paying ALL the funeral expenses for Keith Magnusson, AND arranging every last detail for Keith's wife?
What about the $10,000 dollars Savard needed when he was broke? never asked for it back.

Have some humility.
Understand that you can't possibly know all that there is to be known about anyone, including a man who happened to own a measly little hockey team.

And THAT, from a lifelong Hawk Fan that is just as frustrated as the rest..


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