Wednesday, September 26, 2007


They'll be burying an era with Chicago Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz, the last living Original Six owner, and most (former) hockey fans and sportswriters in the greater Chicagoland area will say that's a damn good thing:

"... 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. Rich, stubborn and backward, Wirtz's business practices were rooted in another century, protecting the laughable concept of "season reservation holders." In fact, you will probably see more of the man's funeral on home television than you saw of his team.

"...The man honestly loved the NHL and hockey, I swear, but the contradiction that was Wirtz was that he had no idea how to treat the fans who made it all go. That's why Wirtz made the NHL almost extinct around here. Truth is truth."
Steve Rosenbloom, RosenBlog, Chicago Tribune
Wirtz' Trib obit shows him as the last of the old-time sportsmen, a philanthropist, patron of grass-roots hockey. Fair enough. At the end of the day, 99% of sports fan knew him for presiding over the ruination of one of the NHL's flagship franchises in the United States.

Rosenbloom's parting shot is a hope that Wirtz's heirs sell the Blackhawks to Chicago Wolves owner Don Levin.

(Hat tip for Deadspin for the alert.)

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