After losing $31 million (all figures U.S.) this season and $191 million over the past 10 on the beleaguered Blackhawks, Wirtz said if the players union hires someone cut out of the mould of Bob Goodenow as executive director, he'll hang up a for-sale sign on the Blackhawks.While I'm not a Blackhawks fan, all I can say is good riddance. Anybody who keeps the vast majority of his team's home games off of local television is an owner who wasn't fit for the golden age of television, never mind the golden age of the Internet.
"If the union hired someone like Bob, who just says your lying whenever you say you're losing money, I'd put the team up for sale," Wirtz says. "And I think that might cause other owners to look at their own investments."
Few other selloffs, however, would be likely to trigger the same reaction as a sale of the Blackhawks, who play in North America's third-largest media market. Wirtz runs the team with his son Peter and is among hockey's most polarizing figures. This season, just five of 41 Blackhawks home games were televised in Chicago. Wirtz argues that showing home games on TV might lead to more fans staying home. (As it is, the Black Hawks finished second-to-last this season, averaging 12,727 spectators per game.)
On Wirtz's take on the NHLPA: Never forget that it was the Blackhawks who signed Bobby Orr after player agent and then-NHLPA head Alan Eagleson kept Orr in the dark about Boston's offer to give the Hall of Fame defenseman a share of team ownership. With no idea that the Bruins had made an offer that would set him up for life, Orr took the larger cash offer from Chicago and finished his career there. That ought to give you a better idea of Wirtz's take on player representation.
And as for a Wirtz selloff causing other owners to call it quits, I'm sure there are plenty of fans in Boston hoping against hope that he's right. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Bill. Thanks to Paul Kukla for the pointer.