Fourtitude.com - Blackhawks owner, Bill Wirtz dead at 77
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    1. Member Weakness's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 09:12 AM #1
      CHICAGO -- William Wirtz, the longtime owner of the Chicago Blackhawks notorious for driving a hard bargain, died Wednesday at age 77.
      Updated: September 26, 2007, 9:08 AM ET
      In an announcement on the team Web site, the Blackhawks said Wirtz died at Evanston Hospital after battling cancer.
      The family, led by Arthur Wirtz, purchased the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. In 1966, William Wirtz became team president.
      Wirtz was chairman of the Board of Governors of the National Hockey League for 18 years and helped negotiate the merger of the NHL and the World Hockey Association in the late 1970's.
      Together with Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Wirtz helped back the construction of the United Center, which replaced the Chicago Stadium, the longtime home for Blackhawks.
      But since moving there 12 years ago, the Blackhawks have made just four playoff appearances -- only two since 1997. The Blackhawks haven't played in the Stanley Cup finals in 15 years. As a result, the Blackhawks -- one of the six original NHL teams -- average about 12,700 fans per game in an arena that seats 20,500.
      Wirtz' stewardship of the Blackhawks was long questioned, with the criticism becoming more vociferous in recent years. Many fans blamed him for allowing too many good players to leave over the years, and for his refusal to televise most home games.
      At the United Center, the retired numbers of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Denis Savard hang high above the ice. It has been years since players of that caliber have played for the team.
      And in recent years, Chicago lost such high-caliber players as Jeremy Roenick, Tony Amonte, Ed Belfour and Chris Chelios.
      There are other banners hanging from the United Center rafters, touting the many successful seasons for the franchise. One stands out: the one representing the Stanley Cup in 1961, the last time the Blackhawks won the championship.
      Wirtz often said his goal was for the team to win another Stanley Cup, but he was not known to spend lavishly on the team. His steadfast refusal to get into bidding wars to acquire the services of the game's best players earned Wirtz the nickname "Dollar Bill." That image changed somewhat when the club signed goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to a four-year, $27 million contract in 2005.
      Despite his reputation for paying close attention to the bottom line, Wirtz was known for his philanthropy.
      Since its establishment in 1993, Blackhawk Charities has donated millions of dollars to worthy causes in Chicago, including the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois.
      Wirtz' interest in sports extended beyond the NHL. He served on both the 1980 and 1984 Winter Olympic Committees. And for his efforts on both the professional and amateur levels, Mr. Wirtz was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1976.
      In addition to being president of the Blackhawks, Wirtz' business endeavors extended to real estate, liquor distributorships, catering, parking lots, banking, hotels and the travel industry.
      Wirtz is survived by his wife, Alice, five children, Rocky, Gail, Karey, Peter and Alyson, and seven grandchildren.
      =============
      Maybe the ownership will understand that fans will truly support the team more if the home games are televised in our city. He was one who said that people will not come to game if they are on TV.

      Modified by Weakness at 8:14 AM 9-26-2007


      Modified by Weakness at 8:19 AM 9-26-2007
      Step 1: Calm down about the CEL, embrace it, it adds more color to the instrument cluster

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    3. Member GSTGuy's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 09:53 AM #2
      I couldn't wait to post this. After letting go of every decent player over the past 10 years to not showing home games on TV, I've lost my status as a fan. I think back to the 90s and how I loved to be a Blackhawks fan.
      I know his son said that he'd start the televised games again, I hope he holds to his word and turns around this sorry franchise. Bill was great at making money, and it was one of the only motives he had. I want the team back.
      Misanthrope extraordinaire

    4. Member Weakness's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 10:36 AM #3
      I am still pissed about the whole Chicago Stadium/United Center thing. The 'rafters' don't shake and its just an all in one place for crap like concerts, shows and conventions.
      Step 1: Calm down about the CEL, embrace it, it adds more color to the instrument cluster

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    6. 09-26-2007 11:25 AM #4
      My brother had Blackhawks season tickets at the old Stadium, and I used to buy a handful of games from him every year. Games there in the early 90s were NUTS! I had to yell just so my friend sitting next to me could hear me talking to him, and by the end of the game I was always hoarse. The atmosphere was electric even during regular season games during those years, and I remember in particular one come from behind win against Toronto that was only rivaled by Bulls' playoff/championship games I've attendeed in terms of intensity and atmosphere.
      He kept the tickets when they moved the the UC, but the team started to deteriorate and the atmosphere in the UC was just not the same. When it became apparent that Wirtz was not interested in putting a competitive team on the ice in spite of escalating ticket, parking, and concession prices, my brother became a former season ticket holder. He still gets tickets from clients on occasion, but uses them infrequently as there really hasn't been much of a reason to go. Now, however, with the glorious news that Bill Wirtz will be contaminating the soil of a Chicagoland cemetery by the end of the week, Blackhawk fans around the country have reason to be a little optimistic about the franchise no longer being an embarrassment.
      Back in the 50s and 60s the Blackhawks owned Chicago. They'll never again eclipse the Bears or Cubs in terms of overall popularity, but they certainly should be able to be little more than a rumor in this consciouness of the city as they are now.



      Modified by djb at 10:27 AM 9-26-2007

    7. Member Weakness's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 11:28 AM #5
      I wonder how many 'fans' will show up to give the geezer a slap in the face or a spit in the coffin. He really screwed us over for many years. I hope they come back to TV.
      Step 1: Calm down about the CEL, embrace it, it adds more color to the instrument cluster

    8. Member GSTGuy's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 11:36 AM #6
      Quote, originally posted by Weakness »
      I hope they come back to TV.

      Ditto, though I've still enjoyed going to the games when I have these past few years. Something about live hockey really gets to ya.
      Misanthrope extraordinaire

    9. 09-26-2007 11:43 AM #7
      Quote, originally posted by Weakness »
      I wonder how many 'fans' will show up to give the geezer a slap in the face or a spit in the coffin. He really screwed us over for many years. I hope they come back to TV.

      I kind of picture a scene akin to Italy in 1945 when Mussolini's body was hung and spit on by people subjected to his regime.
      Of course, I don't think anything like that will happen, (and I feel a little guilty about dancing one someone's grave) but I think there will be a lot of long-time Blackhawk fans who will be taking their Indian head sweaters and other gear out of mothballs in anticipation of a return to glory...or at least the frickin' playoffs.

    10. Senior Member VWVan's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 11:48 AM #8
      Maybe the team will finally turn the corner with out this guy at the helm. I mean I don't like to see people die, but this guy sure screwed you fans over. He took games off of tv Way to get new fans! (or keep them).

    11. Member Methalius's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 12:00 PM #9
      Quote, originally posted by G20t »
      Maybe the team will finally turn the corner with out this guy at the helm. I mean I don't like to see people die, but this guy sure screwed you fans over. He took games off of tv Way to get new fans! (or keep them).


      Yeah, that's just insane. Were away games not televised too?

    12. Member Weakness's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 12:05 PM #10
      Quote, originally posted by Methalius »
      Were away games not televised too?

      Away games were televised since he didn't control the television rights like he did for the home games. he didn't get the TV money like other owners but he didn't care... he is/was filthy filthy rich.
      Step 1: Calm down about the CEL, embrace it, it adds more color to the instrument cluster

    13. Member GSTGuy's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 12:10 PM #11
      One of his early interview lines mentioned how, as a kid, he saw his father counting stacks upon stacks of money after the circus was in town. After that, he knew he wanted to run the show.
      I'm all about the $ and people getting theirs, but c'mon man.
      Misanthrope extraordinaire

    14. 09-26-2007 12:19 PM #12
      Quote, originally posted by GSTGuy »
      One of his early interview lines mentioned how, as a kid, he saw his father counting stacks upon stacks of money after the circus was in town. After that, he knew he wanted to run the show.
      I'm all about the $ and people getting theirs, but c'mon man.

      That's why he was likened to Old Man Potter from It's a Wonderful Life.

    15. Member Methalius's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 12:40 PM #13
      Quote, originally posted by GSTGuy »
      One of his early interview lines mentioned how, as a kid, he saw his father counting stacks upon stacks of money after the circus was in town. After that, he knew he wanted to run the show.
      I'm all about the $ and people getting theirs, but c'mon man.

      Sounds like a real scum bag.
      Is it wrong that I am actually happy for Blackhawk fans now?

    16. Member GSTGuy's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 12:42 PM #14
      Quote, originally posted by Methalius »
      Sounds like a real scum bag.
      Is it wrong that I am actually happy for Blackhawk fans now?

      I felt kinda weird this morning feeling happy that he died.
      On another note, did anyone know that he had cancer? I think they kept that part pretty hush hush.
      Misanthrope extraordinaire

    17. Member Weakness's Avatar
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      09-26-2007 02:28 PM #15
      Quote, originally posted by GSTGuy »
      On another note, did anyone know that he had cancer? I think they kept that part pretty hush hush.

      I don't recall hearing it either. I thought it would die from a bad liver since he was such a boozer.
      Step 1: Calm down about the CEL, embrace it, it adds more color to the instrument cluster

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