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Condolences and congratulations: Bill Wirtz, 1929-2007

 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.
The biggest member of the “old boys network” in the NHL, the man who singlehandedly destroyed one of the best hockey cities in North America is dead. A poor man’s Harold Ballard, all those dozens of high draft picks Chicago has had for the last 60 odd years will now begin to matter. Failure isn’t assured, Wirtz is gone.
Now we just have to hope his son sells off the team, though even if he keeps it he can’t help but being an infinitely better owner.

It’s harsh to poke fun at a man’s death. But the truth is, Wirtz death does more good for the NHL then Wayne Gretzky ever did.
“Dollar Bill” Wirtz is gone, Harold Ballard is long since gone. Their demise is worth more to the NHL then a major US national television contract. It sounds ridiculous that such an impact could be had by someone’s death with nothing actually positive occuring, but the truth is… I’d be shocked if anyone disagreed with the statement of how incredibly positive this is for the NHL, all of the NHL’s fan and most importantly everyone that’s every watched Chicago Blackhawk hockey.

The various Chicago papers all have the expected articles up expressing their joy. I’m sure that makes the Wirtz family sick, but frankly… they had to have expected it.

Sarcasm: In memory of their father, the Wirtz kids announced today that the funeral will be blacked out on local TV, and available only on “Hawks Vision” PPV.
I commend Wirtz for his business acumen and his philanthropy, but there’s no denying the Blackhawks suffered because of him.
Wirtz had a penchant for running out of Chicago his more outspoken Blackhawks stars.
The Blackhawks in the last ten years have only been to the playoffs once, and his unwillingness to televise his team’s games locally further contributed to the decimation of the Blackhawks’ fan base.
This team was in such sad shape that ESPN ranked it in 2004 as “the worst franchise in sports”.
And as Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors from 1974 to 1992, Wirtz along with former NHL President John Ziegler and former NHLPA director Alan Eagleson were responsible for keeping players salaries artificially low, thus setting the stage for contentious labour negotiations between the owners and players since the early 1990s.


September 26, 2007 Posted by | NHL-Other | Leave a comment