Rocky Wirtz, Owner of Chicago Blackhawks and Three-Time Stanley Cup Champion, Passes Away at 70 After Brief Illness
Rocky Wirtz, the owner of the Chicago Blackhawks and a key figure in their three Stanley Cup victories, has died at 70 years old. According to an official statement, Wirtz’s death came suddenly after a short period of illness.
Since 1954, the Wirtz Family has held ownership of the Blackhawks, and in 2007, Rocky Wirtz assumed control of the team after the passing of his father, William. Under Rocky Wirtz’s leadership, the fortunes of the iconic “Original Six” franchise swiftly transformed, resulting in Stanley Cup triumphs in 2010, 2013, and 2015.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman expressed his condolences, saying, “The National Hockey League family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of W. Rockwell ‘Rocky’ Wirtz. Devoted to family and the Chicago Blackhawks, Rocky was a native son of Chicago and an accomplished businessman. Rocky took over control of the Blackhawks in 2007 and almost immediately restored the passion and following of this storied, Original Six franchise.”
Throughout most of Wirtz’s tenure, the team was led by Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, instrumental in securing the three championships. The Blackhawks also made it to the Western Conference Final in 2014, where they faced a seven-game defeat against the Los Angeles Kings.
Despite the Blackhawks’ substantial achievements during Wirtz’s ownership, controversies emerged. In October 2021, an external investigation revealed mishandling of a case involving former player Kyle Beach, who had been sexually assaulted by then-video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2009-10 season.
The investigation did not uncover any evidence that Rocky or Danny Wirtz were aware of the allegations before Beach’s legal action. Eventually, the Blackhawks reached a settlement with Beach. Additionally, Aldrich claimed that his interaction with Beach had been consensual. A separate lawsuit filed by a former high school student assaulted by Aldrich in Michigan was later dismissed.
The NHL imposed a $2 million fine on the Chicago team for “inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.” Following these events, General Manager Stan Bowman resigned, and Rocky Wirtz succeeded in having Aldrich’s name removed from the Stanley Cup.