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Rocky Wirtz

Rocky Wirtz (born William Rockwell Wirtz on October 5, 1952 in Chicago, Illinois) is the current owner & chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL.

He is the son of former Blackhawks owner Bill Wirtz and also the president of the Blackhawks' parent company, Wirtz Corporation.

After becoming the new owner of the Blackhawks, Rocky immediately began altering some longstanding policies implemented by his father, which many fans saw as anachronistic. According to a source within the Hawks organization, he "believes in spending money to make money" in marked contrast to his father's frugal management style.

Bill stated in a brief interview that he would keep Dale Tallon as Blackhawks general manager and Denis Savard as head coach. He also affirmed at the time that Bob Pulford would remain as the team's senior vice president, but he later reassigned him to Blackhawks liaison on NHL affairs.

Savard would be fired as head coach just four games into the 2008-09 NHL season in and replaced by Joel Quenneville).

On October 22, 2007, Rocky announced that the team was in negotiations with Comcast SportsNet Chicago (of which he is part-owner) to begin televising home games. This was another break from Bill Wirtz's management of the Blackhawks where games were previously unavailable on television unless they were nationally televised which only happened in the playoffs.

That season, they began to show a select amount of home games with Rocky citing pre-existing agreements Comcast had with other programming as a reason why not all of the remaining 2007-08 home schedule could be shown.

He also hired John McDonough, formerly with the Chicago Cubs to become the new President of the team. Many believed that McDonough's presence, along with the young talent on the Blackhawks team, would improve the team's marketing ability and reverse a long drought in popularity.

This was evident in the fact that the Blackhawks were tops in the NHL for attendance in 2008-09 while making it to the Western Conference Finals.

Former star players Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, who were not on good terms with Bill Wirtz, have returned to the team in the role of "ambassadors," another sign that Rocky has been able to undo the damage to the franchise many attributed to his father. A big step showing this reconciliation was when the Blackhawks celebrated Hull and Mikita together at the United Center on Friday, March 7, 2008.

Met with more mixed reaction was Rocky's decision to lessen the use of the United Center's organ in favor of more prerecorded current music to attract new, younger fans. This ended up being a blessing in disguise as the goal song "Chelsea Dagger" became a song other teams loved to hate.

The success of the Blackhawks with Rocky at the helm has been remarkable. After missing the playoffs for six straight seasons (and seven of the last eight), the Blackhawks finally broke through in 2009.

Having collected a stable of young and highly touted draft picks, the Blackhawks finally notched their first 100-point season in 16 years. They defeated the Calgary Flames and the Vancouver Canucks in the first two rounds before bowing out to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Final.

In the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks defeated the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1992. They faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL final and won the Stanley Cup in six games on June 9, 2010.

This was the first Stanley Cup for the Blackhawks since 1961, thus ending the second longest Stanley Cup drought in the history of the NHL.

In the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks eliminated the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings and the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings to reach the Finals. There they defeated the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins in six games, giving the Blackhawks a second championship in four seasons.

This marked the first game between Western and Eastern Conference teams all season due to the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season. This also marked the first time since 1979 for an all Original Six Cup Final.

Shortly after this championship, Rocky and John McDonough took out a full-page ad in the Boston Globe thanking the city of Boston for respect and sportsmanship during the Cup Finals and praising their recovery from the Boston Marathon bombings.

In the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks eliminated the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and Anaheim Ducks to reach the Finals. There, they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games, giving the Blackhawks a third championship in six seasons.

AccoladesEdit

  • Three-time Stanley Cup Champion (as owner of the Chicago Blackhawks) (2010, 2013 & 2015)
  • 2014 Wine and Spirits of America Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2010 Chicago Innovation Awards Visionary Award