Rocky Wirtz Obituary, Death – On Tuesday evening, sources told WGN News that NHL team chairman and major owner Rocky Wirtz had died at 70. Chicago Blackhawks grieve the death of their longtime leader. After a brief illness, NHL chairman and principal owner Rocky Wirtz died at 70 on Tuesday.
“Our hearts are very heavy today,” Rocky’s son Danny Wirtz stated in a family statement. “Our dad was a passionate businessman dedicated to making Chicago a great place to live, work, and visit, but he loved his family and close friends. He was a wonderful father, husband to Marilyn, brother, nephew, uncle, and grandfather to his six amazing grandchildren.
“His death leaves a huge hole in many hearts and we will miss him.” After his father Bill’s death and his brother Peter’s resignation, he became the Blackhawks’ full-time coach in 2007. Over the last two years, he rebuilt the faltering franchise into a league powerhouse. The Blackhawks won Stanley Cups in 2010, 2013, and 2015 under him, boosting their popularity.
In his final years, the team struggled on the ice, dealt with the Jenner and Block scandal, and drafted elite prospect Connor Bedard. Northwestern University graduate Wirtz grew raised in Chicago and was born October 5, 1952. His grandfather Arthur Wirtz founded the Wirtz Corporation, which owned the Blackhawks from 1950 to 1966. After his 1983 death, Bill ran the franchise until 2007.
Peter Wirtz was the original owner, but he sold the brand to Rocky. After taking over the franchise, Wirtz started new measures to woo back supporters who had left after the team’s on-ice fortunes declined after Chicago Stadium. He broadcast home games in Chicago, a contentious decision his father had made. From 2008, WGN-TV broadcast games.
Meanwhile, then-general manager Dale Tallon created a new club and drafted franchise heroes Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The Blackhawks started a nine-year playoff streak under Joel Quenneville in October 2009. The finest on-ice era in team history included three Stanley Cup championships, the first since 1961.
Chicago’s NHL-leading attendance helped Wirtz win back former fans and attract new ones. The Blackhawks sold out 535 straight United Center games beginning on March 8, 2008. Since 2017, the Blackhawks only made the playoffs once under his ownership. The squad qualified for an Edmonton bubble play-in series during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season.