Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 01/18/13 at 11:50 AM ET
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
So Wirtz — who spoke at length with the Sun-Times in his lakeshore office Wednesday — said he understands the fans’ frustration and anger over the lockout. He also repeatedly said he thanks them for their patience during the collective-bargaining process. But he also said neither he, nor anyone else, owes those fans an apology for nearly losing an entire season for the second time in eight years.
“I don’t think the owners or the players should have to apologize for going through a collective-bargaining process,” said Wirtz, an investor in the Sun-Times’ parent company, Wrapports LLC. “Labor is labor, and that’s just the way it is. It might be very distasteful for the fans, but, unfortunately, when you have unions involved, that’s the process you have to go through.”
Many Hawks fans felt differently and took to the Internet with their displeasure about a brief “thank you” letter signed by Wirtz and team president John McDonough. It, too, thanked fans for their patience, but offered no apology to fans, local businesses and others who were hurt by the lockout. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — essentially the working arm and mouthpiece of the owners — apologized publicly in the wake of the Jan. 6 agreement. Wirtz said Bettman “was speaking from the heart” but didn’t feel it was necessary.
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