While the Chicago Blackhawks are probably tired of all the criticisms hurled at their perceived weakness in net, long-time fans must find humor in that being the powerhouse team’s biggest problem. In just a few years, this team went from one of the saddest, most poorly run franchises in all of professional sports into a young, ultra-talented Cup contender that packs the cavernous United Center night after night.
It’s more than a bit macabre to attribute the team’s revitalization to the death of owner Bill Wirtz. After all, the team wouldn’t be where it is today if it hadn’t drafted Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Still, the man many called “Dollar Bill” Wirtz maintained some mind numbing policies that kept the club far behind the times.
Sports Encyclopedia.com paints the picture of the distaste for Bill Wirtz quite nicely:
In a sign things were changing, the team’s new President Rocky Wirtz finally agreed to allow Blackhawks home games to air on local television reversing a long held policy from his father. Rocky Wirtz also welcomed back legendary players Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito as club ambassadors, the three had refused to have anything to do with the team, while Bill Wirtz was alive.”
Let that sink in for a second: Blackhawks fans weren’t able to watch home games on TV until 2007 because Bill Wirtz thought it would hurt their gate revenue. Such archaic thought makes me wonder how Chicago made it to road games on time while traveling by horse and buggy.
So when you’re watching this young, talented and incredibly deep Chicago squad, realize that this team was a blight on the NHL landscape for most of the last decade and beyond.