Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/12/12 at 11:41 AM ET
from David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune,
Since the 2007 resurgence that began when Rocky Wirtz took over for his late father, Bill Wirtz, televised Hawks home games have found a comfortable spot in our living rooms and the city's consciousness. Chants of "Rocky! Rocky!" break out during playoff games. The Hawks have led the NHL in attendance four straight seasons.
Now, the void will be more noticeable and the frustration could fester. Indifference over an NHL lockout average fans cannot accept could develop into animosity.
Money might not be the only thing Wirtz loses. The longer this work stoppage goes on, the more uncomfortable Rocky might find sitting in his usual spot among the masses when the games resume. If the Hawks don't start until January — an optimistic expectation — how will the crowd react at the UC the first time the Blackhawks owner's image appears on the Jumbotron? A Wirtz-case scenario: He gets booed for letting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stop the momentum the Blackhawks had built.
Say goodbye to goodwill at 1901 W. Madison? Hawks fans already figured to let GM Stan Bowman have it for an offseason of inactivity but have the days of being at odds with ownership returned? Wirtz still has time to affect those answers.
As much as Bettman has confirmed himself as the worst commissioner in sports during this lockout, he works for the owners. They cannot be absolved of responsibility for the rinks staying empty. Using whatever power they can wield, Wirtz and other major-market owners must find a way to get through to Bettman to find middle ground that he seems unwilling to seek. You would think a commissioner who has presided over three work stoppages would be better for the experience. Bettman isn't.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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