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Breaking news this morning says that Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a major liquor distributor in Illinois died last night at age 77.

For Chicago Hockey fans this may present an opportunity to celebrate the rebirth of the franchise. Wirtz was called the "3rd greediest owner in sports" by ESPN and is widely regarded as the reason that the Blackhawks have sucked so bad for the last 30 or 40 years.

On the wine and liquor front Wirtz has been implicated as one of the driving forces behind new restrictive liquor laws that have recently been passed in Illinois.

While I'm sad for his family and the end of a human life, as an Illinois hockey fan and wine fan I can't pretend to be too broken up. This may present an opportunity for change in Chicago sports, and hopefully the liquor distribution business as well.
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Speaking purely as a hockey fan...and one who followed the Hawks growing up in the 60's/early 70's (Bruins and Blackhawk fan back then)...I find myself, like grossie, with mixed feelings.
Though Wirtz is considered one of the 'Builders' of the NHL...he also is, IMHO, responsible for the embarrassing futility of the franchise in recent times.

Sad to hear of his passing...but...
Here's to hoping the Blackhawks will return to it's once proud tradition of being consistantly competitive.
Originally posted by Spiral:
He claimed his no free tv policy for the Hawks was to protect the season ticket holders, even though season ticket sales have dropped from over 15000 to under 5000 in the last 10-12 years. I hope his son isn't a chip off the old block.

I know that's what he said, but in reality all it did was create a generation of local kids that grew up supporting other teams. My son was killing me slowly by rooting for the Red Wings while growing up. Happily, the prodigal son has come home and now supports the Blackhawks whole heartedly.
Originally posted by on the wine:
This thread started out trying to sound sensitive, and has quickly turned into an unbridled celebration of a man's passing.

Sort of how we felt about Harold Ballard in Toronto.

And how many of us felt about Charlie Finley, and how we were feeling about John York (49'ers) until he did an about face and opened up the purse strings this year....
Being from the land of ice and snow, I thoroughly enjoyed the old Chicago vs. Minnesota games. Some of the best fighting I have ever heard (used to listen on the old AM radio going to bed) and seen. Al Shaver was an unbelieveable announcer.

The Boston/Minnesota fights were some of the best also. I can remember one game in which each team was down to like 7 or 8 skaters going into the 3rd period. The fighting started before the refs even hit the ice in warm ups.

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