Rocky Wirtz: 'Let's all toast'

June 10, 2010 4:42:16 PM PDT
The man credited with starting the turn around of the franchise is Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. And he did it in three years.

ABC 7's Ravi Baichwal caught up with Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz Thursday to find out what he had to say about the Stanley Cup.

It's a sweet moment for a man whose team has scaled hockey's highest mountain And while his father once said sports owners are not meant to be liked, the son has turned that aphorism on its head-- while turning the Chicago Blackhawks into champions.

"It is almost like a coming out party, where all of a sudden people are saying for the first time, 'You know what? I have always been a fan, but I was almost afraid to express it,' " said Wirtz.

Rocky Wirtz took over the chairmanship of the Original Six franchise in 2007 upon the death of his father, Bill Wirtz. he proceeded to build on the franchise's past to win over a new generation of hockey fans, lost, according to many, due to the insensitivities of the father, like not putting games on TV, and trading away star players.

"What you want to do is earn the fans' respect," Wirtz said. "They might not like you but they should respect you, and hopefully, the respect is-- we are trying our hardest to win something and consistently be good."

The bar has now been set with Wednesday night's Stanley Cup championship -- and given the competitive travails of Chicago's other major league sports teams, it's reasonable to think the Blackhawks will be Chicago's darlings for some time. But to stay there, the man in charge knows the signing core players long term is key, and keeping the focus on the fans.

"They have embraced the team and I can't thank them enough...Let's sit back and enjoy it...since 1961, it has been a long time between drinks, and let's all toast at our favorite watering hole or home this really great young team," said Wirtz.


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