NHL Year in Review: Rocky Wirtz for Person of the Year
Wirtz may have made plenty of no-brainer decisions, like putting Blackhawks home games on television, but Wirtz also made countless wise moves while changing the culture of Chicago's hockey franchise after the death of his father, William, in 2007. Rocky brought the Blackhawks' beloved alumni, including long-estranged legend Bobby Hull, back to the team and the city. Wirtz gave a green light to some deep spending of free agents, Brian Campbell -- a signing viewed by fans as confirmation that this generation's Blackhawks would be different -- and Marian Hossa.
Most essentially, Wirtz put the best people in place to run his team, and he let them do their jobs. While the Blackhawks' hockey operations staff completed the construction of a championship hockey team, team president John McDonough and his staff marketed and promoted the team. The Blackhawks maybe weren't an overnight sensation, but now the United Center is sold out every night.
"Embrace your fans and really work with them," the 57-year-old Wirtz listed as his credo while meeting with reporters during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He made it look so easy, you wonder why more NHL owners do not follow his lead.
The Blackhawks may have had to move several key players in the offseason because of a salary cap crunch, but a strong nucleus is in place with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith signed to long-term contracts. Thanks to Rocky Wirtz, the man at the top, his franchise should be a titan of the NHL on and off the ice for the next decade.