Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Bill Wirtz and The Chicago Blackhawks

Now that the NHL has resolved the lockout and changed the rules, Gary Bettman and the owners in the league must deal with the biggest problem left in hockey: Bill Wirtz. Wirtz is the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks, an original 6 franchise that should be in danger of being relocated. Wirtz will never let them leave Chicago, but he does not care about the fans and is killing the sport of hockey in one of the biggest markets in the United States.

How would you like it if you could not see half of your team's games on television? If every time your team was at home, you had to listen on the radio, go to a bar, or get NHL Center Ice and hope that the other team's broadcast was on that night? That is a reality for fans in Chicago. Bill Wirtz does not care about the fans and believes (or says he believes) that by putting the team on TV, fans will have less incentive to come down to the arena. Well, it looks like Bill's line of reasoning is incorrect. The Hawks were 27th in home attendance last season, averaging only 13,253 fans a game.

This great franchise that has retired the numbers of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito is dying because of Bill Wirtz. It's hard to watch them on television, no one is coming down to the stadium, and with the Bulls being good again, the Hawks are just not part of the Chicago mind set anymore during the winter months. I read hockey forums and on them, the Blackhawks section is probably the most quiet out of any section. The Hawks fans that love the team are loyal, but Wirtz has just alienated too many people.

Hawks fans hate Wirtz with a passion, and they have every reason too. Gary Bettman and the other owners need to do something to force the Blackhawks onto television for every game this season. The NHL is back, and if they want to make money again and bring back fans, they need to revive the great sports market of Chicago.