Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz dies at 70 following brief illness

Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, who won three Stanley Cup championships during his time with the franchise, has died at the age of 70. In a press release, the team stated that Wirtz died suddenly following a brief illness.

The Blackhawks have been owned by the Wirtz Family since 1954, and Rocky Wirtz took over control of the team in 2007 when his father, William, died.. Rocky Wirtz quickly shifted the fortunes of the “Original Six” franchise, and won the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

“The National Hockey League family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of W. Rockwell ‘Rocky’ Wirtz,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a press release. “Devoted to family and the Chicago Blackhawks, Rocky was a native son of Chicago and an accomplished businessman. Rocky took over control of the Blackhawks in 2007 and almost immediately restored the passion and following of this storied, Original Six franchise.”

The majority of Wirtz’s tenure was led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, who helped lead the team to three championships. The Blackhawks also made it to the Western Conference Final in 2014, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games.

While the Blackhawks had a great deal of success under Wirtz, it wasn’t without its fair share of controversy. In October 2021, an investigation, which was conducted by an outside law firm, determined that the team mishandled a situation in which a former player, Kyle Beach, was sexually assaulted by then-video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2009-10 season.

The investigation didn’t find any evidence that Rocky or Danny Wirtz were aware of the allegations prior to Beach filing a lawsuit.

The Blackhawks ended up reaching a settlement with Beach. In addition, Aldrich informed investigators that his encounter with Beach was consensual. A second lawsuit was filed by a former high school student that Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan, but was dismissed.

Chicago was fined $2 million by the NHL for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.” General manager Stan Bowman resigned from his post, and Wirtz successfully had Aldrich’s name removed from the Stanley Cup.

Leave a comment