Chicago has lost one of its most influential figures in the world of hockey. Rocky Wirtz, renowned owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, passed away at the age of 70. His sudden passing has left a void that will be deeply felt by his loved ones and the hockey community alike.
Rocky Wirtz was no stranger to the Blackhawks organization. Born into a family deeply rooted in hockey history, he inherited the team from his father in 2007. Prior to his ownership, the Blackhawks had experienced years of struggle both on and off the ice.
However, with Rocky at the helm, everything changed. Recognizing the importance of a strong connection to the team’s past, he worked tirelessly to reunite the franchise with its iconic players. Moreover, Rocky made a crucial decision to bring the team’s games back to local TV, reigniting the passion of loyal fans.
Under his leadership, the Blackhawks experienced an incredible resurgence. Led by exceptional talents like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the team claimed three Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Their journey also included a memorable run in the 2014 Western Conference Final.
Rocky Wirtz’s impact extended far beyond the ice rink. He became a beloved figure in his beloved Chicago, known for his unwavering commitment to the city. While he was undoubtedly a shrewd businessman, his true devotion lay with his family and closest friends.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged Rocky’s lasting legacy. In a heartfelt statement, he described him as both a native son of Chicago and an accomplished entrepreneur. It is undeniable that Rocky’s leadership revitalized the Blackhawks, transforming them into one of the league’s most iconic franchises.
Today, we pay tribute to Rocky Wirtz, a man who revolutionized the game and brought immeasurable joy to the hearts of countless fans. His passing leaves behind a tremendous void, but his spirit will forever live on in the memories of all those who had the privilege of witnessing his remarkable journey.
Rest in peace, Rocky Wirtz. Thank you for everything.
The Legacy of Rocky Wirtz at the United Center
Rocky Wirtz, the former owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, left a lasting impact on the franchise. Known for his close relationship with the team and its employees, Wirtz was not only a partner but also a dear friend to many.
According to Jerry Reinsdorf, a key figure at the United Center, Wirtz was someone he trusted implicitly. Their bond was unbreakable, and throughout their years together, they never even had a single disagreement or argument.
Wirtz was widely liked by those who knew him. Described as smart, passionate, generous, personable, and friendly, he truly cared about the Blackhawks and its fans. He also held a deep appreciation for the city of Chicago.
Unfortunately, Wirtz’s tenure as owner was marred by a scandal involving allegations of sexual assault. During the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup title, a player came forward with claims that he had been assaulted by an assistant coach.
An external law firm, Jenner & Block, conducted an investigation into the matter. The review, released in October 2021, revealed that the franchise mishandled the situation poorly. However, it also found no evidence that Rocky or Danny Wirtz were aware of the allegations before they were brought to their attention through a lawsuit.
Ultimately, the Blackhawks reached a confidential settlement with the player involved. Meanwhile, the assistant coach, Brad Aldrich, maintained that his encounter with the player was consensual.
The NHL took action in response to the mishandling of the situation, imposing a $2 million fine on the Blackhawks for their inadequate internal procedures and delayed response. In addition, longtime general manager Stan Bowman resigned from his position. Rocky Wirtz also successfully advocated for the removal of Aldrich’s name from the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
During a town hall meeting in February 2022, Wirtz passionately rejected any discussion related to the franchise’s response to the allegations. However, he later apologized for his remarks that same night.
In summary, Rocky Wirtz’s legacy at the United Center will always be associated with his strong bond with the team, his generosity, and his love for the city of Chicago. Although his tenure as owner faced challenges, his dedication to the Blackhawks and their fans remained steadfast throughout.