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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bill Wirtz dead; A fan perspective

A public figure has died. It is not, I think, too early to consider the legacy of Bill Wirtz. It is very decidedly mixed. I won’t be singing ding-dong the witch is dead. A man has died of a terrible disease. Yet, he is leaving a mixed legacy behind him. And this is probably the saddest thing I can think to say about his life: at the moment of death, some people rejoiced.

I am a hockey fan. Aside from the bland curiosity and loyalty to the Blackhawks due to their residence in the city, I have no attachment to them. Why? I don’t know! I never saw them on television, never became hooked on reading sports in the newspaper and never, ever listen to sports on radio. Until recently I couldn’t have afforded tickets. How could I have ever experienced this team?

So why buy the hats, sweaters, jackets and other merchandise that fans love to own for a team I barely knew existed? By the time I became interested in hockey it was the Wolves who would capture my dollars.

And why not? Affordable. An owner who is approachable. A great entertainment experience and a team that has won three championships and made it to the playoffs in 10 of 11 years.

I am a liquor consumer too. I won’t forget how this man engineered a law that locked retailers into relationships with their liquor distributors and then used that to gouge the consumer. What a surprise to the GOP: create an artificial monopoly and the owner will act like a monopolist.

Bill Wirtz was a philanthropist, according to the news release on the Blackhawk web site. I admit, I’m not familiar with Mr. Wirtz’ philanthropic efforts. The Blackhawks say that is because he didn’t want the attention. However, I feel these efforts, would have been even more successful if he had been able to engage the community to join him. Instead, at his death he is compared to Scrooge and Mr. Potter.

These are hardly ringing endorsements.

There are certain people, and Mike North of the Score is one in particular, who should hang their head in shame. They used this death to grandstand and gain points. Who will dance on your grave Mike North? Who will remember the shoddy professional life you scream from the dial every morning? If you have something thoughtful to say to hockey fans, a sport you rarely discuss, let’s hear it. But the triumphalism of this morning’s show was an embarrassment.

It is Wednesday, September 26, 2007 and Bill Wirtz is dead. He lived a life as a successful business owner and his death was met by rejoicing by many people. It seems as though a fulfilling and engaging spirit did not match the success of his business life.

My condolences to the Wirtz family.

1 comment:

WindyCitySportsBlog.com said...

I completely agree with you. Some people need to separate Bill Wirtz the man and Bill Wirtz the owner. I'm sure he was good guy and probably had the best intentions. The problem was, I don't think he ever understood how to change as the league changed. There was a day (1991-1996) that the Blackhawks shared a hold on this city. Never a home game on TV, but the old stadium was jammed pack with about 21,000 die hard fans. Even in the playoffs you had to purchase the home playoff games on PPV in what was called "Hawkvision". They got caught in the mix during the first run by the Bulls, but still made the Chicago headlines and were a focal point of the city.

Then Wirtz (and Bob Pulford) got mad with comments from the players in the media and shipped them off. Roenick, Belfour and finally the killer, Chelios. The problem was these guys still had years left in them and could have kept the core of what was still a good team.

The "dismissal" of Pat Foley was the final breaking point for me. He was everything a Blackhawk should be and was let go because they no longer wanted to do a simulcast. Not nicely, just let go. Where the Blackhawks failed, the Wolves succeeded.

As for Mike North, I still can't believe he is on the air. He's such a moron and knows nothing about sports and has to use useless crude jokes to get attention. The media in Chicago is just plain bad.

I'm not sure whats left for the Hawks, but I'll spend my money going to a Wolves game until I see some development on Madison Street.