Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, who presided over three Stanley Cup championships, died Tuesday after a brief illness at the age of 70.
The team confirmed the news on Twitter.
We are deeply saddened to join the Wirtz Family in mourning the sudden passing of our Chairman W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz today at the age of 70. pic.twitter.com/WA58pXWl9M
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) July 26, 2023
The Blackhawks have been in the Wirtz family since 1954, and Rocky assumed the role of chairman after the death of his father, Bill, in 2007.
Wirtz quickly distinguished himself as owner, striking a landmark deal to broadcast Blackhawks games, which previously had only been available on national telecasts.
The Chicago native will be best remembered, however, for presiding over Stanley Cup championships in 2010, 2013, and 2015, the franchise’s first titles since 1961.
Wirtz also served as a member of the NHL’s executive and audit/finance committees.
“Our hearts are very heavy today,” Rocky Wirtz’s son and Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz said in a statement. “Our dad was a passionate businessman committed to making Chicago a great place to live, work and visit, but his true love for his family and close friends. He was a loving father, a devoted husband to Marilyn, a brother, a nephew, an uncle and a doting grandfather to his six remarkable grandchildren. His passing leaves a huge hole in the hearts of many and we will miss him terribly.”
Wirtz’s reign as owner included a notable controversy. Kyle Beach, the Blackhawks first-round in 2008, filed a lawsuit in 2021 against Chicago alleging sexual assault by the team’s former video coach in 2010. After an investigation found that Beach’s complaints to the team went unanswered, longtime general manager Stan Bowman and VP of hockey operations Al MacIsaac resigned. Beach reached a confidential settlement with the team in 2021.
Blackhawks fans and others around the league shared their condolences on Wirtz’s death.
For a while there, he was the most beloved owner in Chicago, maybe in all of sports.
Thank you for bringing the Blackhawks back to a place of prominence in Chicago and across the NHL.
Condolences to the Wirtz family.
— Michael La Crosse (@MLa_Crosse) July 26, 2023
I am stunned,shocked, &saddened at the passing today of Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz at age 70.He always treated me great.And the job he did resurrecting the Blackhawks franchise was worthy of being taught at the Harvard Business School. Rest in Peace Rocky.And thank you. pic.twitter.com/gkqe4eprF9
— Steve Schanwald (@SteveMSchanwald) July 26, 2023
Rip Rocky Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Blackhawks. He inherited the terrible team from his fun hating fan hating winning hating dad and turned the team into a winner and even let people watch the team on tv and know who they are.
— Robots With Coffee Paul (@robotswcoffee) July 26, 2023
So I see Rocky Wirtz died today. On one hand, he helped bring the Blackhawks back to prosperity in the 2010's.
On the other hand, he didn't address the 2010 sexual assault within the Blackhawks organization very well.
Sad to see him gone, but it might be for the better.
— Adam NX67 🏎 (@AdamNx67) July 25, 2023