Flashback: Chicago Blackhawks fans boo the late Bill Wirtz during a pre-game memorial

Safe to say, fans let their feelings of the late Hawks owner known.

HockeyFeed

The Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed a resurgence in the late 2000's and throughout the 2010's, bringing three Stanley Cup championships back to the Windy City and enjoying strong fan attendance and support. And while they're currently undergoing a rebuilding process, the recent memories that the team provided for fans of the Original 6 franchise will last a lifetime.

However, it wasn't always like this. In fact, there was an entire generation of Blackhawks fans who couldn't watch their team's home games on television - not due to any lack of access to the necessary technology, but because it was the policy of team ownership. 

The Wirtz family purchased the Blackhawks in 1954, and it was Bill Wirtz who would later serve as team owner and president of the franchise for 41 years. And he quickly became known as a tightfisted owner whose penny-pinching ways would drive fans away. 

The Blackhawks did enjoy periods of success under Wirtz, even making the Stanley Cup Finals in 1991.

But following the departures of Jeremy Roenick, Ed Belfour, and later Chris Chelios (traded to Detroit), the Blackhawks descended into a dark age of mediocrity and waning fan interest - all while under the control of "Dollar" Bill Wirtz. He refused to spend money to improve the team, even going so far as to forbid his general manager from trading for better talent because it would cost too much. This, combined with the refusal to broadcast home games on television, earned the scorn and hatred of Chicago sports fans everywhere. According to Wirtz, he believed that broadcasting home games on television for free was an insult to season ticket holders who paid to watch live in person. 

How severe was their hatred? Following Wirtz's death in 2007, the Blackhawks held a pre-game ceremony before their home opener to honor their late owner and held a moment of silence in his memory - the entire crowd booed loudly, with Wirtz's family members front and center.


Bill's son Rocky became the fifth principal owner of the team after his father's death, and things immediately began to change - notably, with home games being broadcast. And the rest, they say, is history.