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Blackhawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz Passes Away At Age 70

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The Chicago Blackhawks organization is in mourning. Chairman Rocky Wirtz has passed away on Tuesday according to reports. He was 70 years old.

Wirtz was responsible for the Blackhawks ascension in the hockey world, presiding over three Stanley Cup championships in the 16 years he was the chairman of the team.

Wirtz took over upon the death of his father, William, in 2007. The franchise at that point had been moribund for nearly a decade but was collecting young talent in the way of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the 2007 and 2006 drafts respectively.

Just a season after their rookie seasons, the Blackhawks took off as Wirtz worked to revitalize the Blackhawks place in the Chicago sports landscape.

Chicago would go on to win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015. Rocky Wirtz would become quite the rockstar for his had in the turnaround of the Blackhawks organization.

Gary Bettman, Blackhawks Respond With Releases

Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on Wirtz’s sudden passing while drawing his own personal friendship into it:

“On a personal level, Rocky was a dear friend whose counsel I consistently sought,” Bettman said in the release.  “He was a highly respected member of the Executive Committee of the League’s Board of Governors whose wisdom and camaraderie were valued by his fellow owners.”

The Blackhawks also released their own statement, noting his stewardship of the team, noting particularly:

“His commitments and investment delivered the team’s historic Stanley Cup championship victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015, brought Blackhawks games back to local television and packed the United Center for a lengthy sellout streak that lasted over 13 years. In that same time, Rocky also served as a member of the National Hockey League’s Executive and Audit/Finance Committees.

 Above all else, Rocky was most proud to lead his family’s commitment to numerous civic and charitable organizations. His dedication to the Chicago Blackhawks Foundation and its mission to create a healthier, smarter, more secure world for families in and around Chicago was unwavering. The Foundation has donated millions of dollars to dozens of organizations focused on youth programs, education, housing and health and wellness.”

Son and CEO Danny Wirtz also released a statement:

Wirtz Changed Chicago Sports Landscape

Wirtz’s willingness to spend on the team, as opposed to his father Bill’s more stringent bookkeeping, made him a hero among fans, especially after the team won a Stanley Cup barely three years into his leadership.

The Blackhawks became a renowned brand throughout not only the city but also the entire, known for fans that traveled well as well as national appearances in the Winter Classic as well as the Stadium Series. Also was the success they found with winning.

Wirtz was seen less in the past few years after a town hall where he refused to answer further on the Brad Aldrich sexual abuse case that had roiled the organization. Wirtz would release a statement later, apologizing, but his appearances later would be significantly less.

His death today, with the shockwaves its producing, shows just how big of a figure he was in Chicago.

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