'Hawks owner, team superstitious before finals

May 25, 2010 (CHICAGO)

They host the Philadelphia Flyers in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals.

This is the Hawks' first appearance in the finals since 1992.

Some fans believe the leadership of Hawks Chairman Rocky Wirtz is one big reason for the franchise's turnaround.

When he took over the team after his father's death in October 2007, Rocky Wirtz said he hoped to get the Hawks back to a winning record and bring fans back to the United Center.

He's succeeded in those goals.

Of course, the Stanley Cup is every team's goal, but as the team stands on the brink of the Cup, Wirtz admits it has happened much more quickly than he could have imagined.

The sign was hanging from the stands in the aftermath of the Hawks' victory in Sunday's Western Conference Final game: "Thanks Rocky".

Wirtz gets much of the credit for turning around an organization that was almost an afterthought in Chicago a few years ago. Now, the Hawks are the talk of the town.

Rocky was just nine years old the last time the hawks won the Stanley Cup, in 1961. He says he remembers little of it. He has focused instead on winning another one, although he says the team still has work to do before anyone plans a parade.

Some fans are dreaming that far ahead though, and the Hawks have developed thousands of new fans around the city thanks to their success.

The Campbell trophy that the team won for the Western Conference championship is now sitting in the Hawks office at the United Center, but just like the team, Rocky Wirtz is following superstition.

The tradition in the Western Conference is for the winning team to avoid the Campbell trophy in hopes of winning the Stanley Cup next.

In the Eastern Conference, however, that superstition is different, as the Philadelphia Flyers demonstrated last night when skating with the Prince of Wales trophy. Wirtz hopes that's the only trophy they get to hold.

The Hawks open up at the United Center for the first two games, then they go to Philadelphia for games three and four.

Wirtz says the team is looking into opening up the United Center for those games in Philadelphia so fans can watch the games on the jumbotron.

It would probably be a full house, especially if the Hawks win the first two games here in Chicago.

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