Team's success rekindles Blackhawk fever

May 5, 2009 8:50:01 PM PDT
The United Center will be a very noisy place on Tuesday night.The Blackhawks take on Vancouver in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The team's success this year has rekindled Blackhawk fever in Chicago.

The resurgence has come under the leadership of Rocky Wirtz.

The game is a sellout on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks have sold out every game at the United Center all season.

Hockey is in vogue again in Chicago. The Blackhawks are in the second rounds of the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade. And Rocky Wirtz, whose family has owned the team for 70 years, has had a lot to do with it.

Since taking over the team after his father passed away two years ago, Wirtz has brought in new management, put the games on television and put fans back in the stands.

"The new owners have done so much to promote the Blackhawks and do things for the fans to make things exciting," said Marlene Libings, Blackhawks fan.

"It's like watching an infant grow. And every day it's something new, and that's what we see in this team," said Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks owner.

After tremendous success over the history of this original six franchise, for the last 15 years the Hawks' fan base was dwindling. Hawks legends of the past, like Tony Esposito, stayed away. Rocky Wirtz embraced the past and the household names like Esposito took notice.

"He made quick decisions, he made big decisions, expensive decisions. He poured a ton of money into it, and every move seems to have been the right move," said Tony Esposito, Blackhawks Hall-of-Famer.

While the success is satisfying for Wirtz, the team is still far off from his goal. That, of course, is the Stanley Cup. And not just one, several.

"We're going to have an exciting team, and that means you're not going to have losses. And that breeds success, and it is an exciting time," said Wirtz.

Ricky Wirtz says when he took over the team two years ago he was expecting it was going to take time for the fans to come back. He said if he's surprised about anything this season, it's that the fans have come back more quickly than expected.


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