NHL News

Wirtz, longtime owner of Blackhawks, dies at 70

CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz died Tuesday at the age of 70, the team announced.

The Blackhawks franchise has been in the Wirtz family since 1954, and Rocky was a longtime contributor. In a statement released by the club on Tuesday night, the Blackhawks acknowledged that his “commitments and investment delivered the team’s historic Stanley Cup championship victories in 2010, 2013 and 2015, brought Blackhawks games back to local television and packed the United Center for a lengthy sellout streak that lasted over 13 years.”

Wirtz also served as a member of the NHL’s executive and audit/finance committees.

“Rocky was a dear friend whose counsel I consistently sought,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement Tuesday night. “He was a highly respected member of the league’s board of governors whose wisdom and camaraderie were valued by his fellow owners.”

Rocky’s grandfather, Arthur Wirtz, purchased the Blackhawks in 1954, and Rocky grew up in a time when the club played in Chicago Stadium. He took over as chairman of the Blackhawks in 2007.

Last year, Wirtz was outspoken amid the fallout surrounding the Kyle Beach lawsuit that hovered over the organization.

During a 2022 town hall with fans, one reporter asked the assembled panel, which included Wirtz and Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz, about how Chicago intended to avoid any power imbalances between players and coaches in the future, like the one Beach endured in 2010. Rocky Wirtz was heated in his replies, and later apologized, through a team statement, for his response.

Beach, a former first-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2008, filed a lawsuit in May 2021 against Chicago alleging prolonged sexual assault by the team’s former video coach, Brad Aldrich, in 2010. An independent investigation by the law firm Jenner & Block concluded that “nothing was done” by senior leaders to prevent the harassment Beach faced, and longtime general manager Stan Bowman and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac both resigned. Others were also fired because of what Jenner & Block unearthed.

Wirtz and the Blackhawks ultimately resolved their lawsuit with Beach in December via a confidential settlement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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