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Town Hall Meeting Goes Bad For The Chicago Blackhawks

from Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times,

Rocky Wirtz dropped a nuclear bomb on the concept of accountability Wednesday.

And just like that, he decimated any semblance of goodwill, forgiveness and positive change the Blackhawks might’ve built up in the months since Kyle Beach’s sexual assault allegations arose.

Asked by a reporter about the Hawks’ work to ensure another assault will never occur — part of a heavily scripted, so-called “townhall meeting” — the Hawks chairman delivered arguably the most unprofessional and shameful outburst ever heard within the walls of the United Center.

“We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach,” Wirtz said with fury. “We’re not going to talk about anything that happened. We’re moving on.

“What we’re going to do today is our business. I don’t think it’s any of your business. You don’t work for the company. If somebody in the company asks that question, we’ll answer it.”

Asked the same question again minutes later, Wirtz’s anger was joined by a tone-deaf undercurrent of exasperation.

“I told you to get off the subject,” he said. “I’m not going to bring up the [Jenner & Block report]. I know you’re talking about what the report was talking about, and I told you we’re moving on. It’s out of line to ask this line of questions. Why don’t you ask about something else? Why don’t you ask about the [general manager] search? Why do you bring up old business?”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

Paul's avatar

Mark Lazerus of The Athletic was the first reporter with the question…

Not too long ago, Rocky Wirtz, purveyor of a good portion of the booze in this town, couldn’t buy a drink in it. He was the man who saved the Blackhawks from the penny-pinching grip of his father, “Dollar” Bill Wirtz. The man who poured money back into the franchise, who put home games back on television, who gave John McDonough a blank check to turn the most poorly run team in pro sports into the gold standard.

During the team’s heyday from 2010-2015, Wirtz often sat among the fans near the top of the 100 level. It was three straight hours of handshakes and high-fives and thank-yous from a giddy fan base, both old and beleaguered and young and activated.

All that goodwill is now gone. All of it.

continued (paid)

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 02/03/22 at 10:25 AM ET

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I have absolutely nothing to do with Chicago or their team and I was embarrassed watching that last night. Leaving aside all the rest of it (which is asking a lot), the way he smacked his own son down when he tried to intercede, wow.

Posted by dwgs on 02/03/22 at 10:34 AM ET

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What a piece of shit.

Posted by ThatGuy on 02/03/22 at 10:44 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Danny Wirtz tried to dig him out of the hole he had dug himself and he shut him down too.  You could definitely see where the culture that led to the cover-up had originated.

Posted by Hootinani on 02/03/22 at 10:46 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Whether you or I like it, the cold hard reality is that he’s right, they’re moving on, and it doesn’t matter.  Sure this might turn up the volume of noise from the outside, the poetry’eske hit pieces in media, the reporters outrage, the twitterate, etc.  but the Blackhawks’ fans will indeed move on.  This will have a minimal impact on ticket sales, this will have a minimal impact on merch. When the team performs, both will improve, when the team is terrible they will go down.

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 02/03/22 at 11:07 AM ET

ilovehomers's avatar

before I watched a couple of videos was thinking the same. Investigation completed, Blackhawks paid their price, do better moving forward. But this, its a horrible look.

Posted by ilovehomers on 02/03/22 at 12:21 PM ET

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https://youtu.be/TM1ItVtXiDE

Talk about not aging well.

Posted by ThatGuy on 02/03/22 at 01:14 PM ET

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tell me you give two shits about rape without telling me you give two shits about rape within your organization…

Answer: Rocky Wirtz “we’re moving on and not talking about it anymore.”  That screams of a man who thinks the whole situation is ridiculous and overblown (its not) 

Its a very simple and fair question, and its timed appropriately… How are you going to make sure it doesn’t happen again? 

Here is what his answer should have been…  “It was tragic situation, we failed the player on every level and I think you’ve all witnessed the deserved fallout from that. As an organization we are still picking up the pieces, and we have dedicated personal to answering that very important question and when I am able to give you a more concrete answer, I will, but I want to assure you, our ultimate end goal is that it never happens again, and we can ensure our present and future prospects that they are entering a safe environment where they can confidently report abuse on all levels and it will be addressed with seriousness and sincerity.”

Simply not talking about a horrific event is how it happens again. All signs say the door is open for sexual predators to invade the Blackhawk organization because Rocky Wirtz isn’t angry at what happened, he’s angry that they got caught.

Posted by Jdunc from Flint, MI on 02/03/22 at 01:25 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

Posted by Jdunc

Tell me you were involved without telling me you were involved! He talks about a report, which obviously doesn’t mention him, and now he wants everyone to stop digging. The league should force a sale of the team at this point, or let the NHL run them for a while. The league does such a great job with the ‘Yotes, it’ll be fun to go play the Hawks at the rink on Loyola’s campus for a couple of years.

Rocky’s dad was a piece of shit, too, but I don’t know he ever did anything like this.

Posted by Steeb on 02/03/22 at 01:42 PM ET

Steeb's avatar

Rocky also decided to show his ass in public right before the big annual meeting with the corporate money/PR people, who care about optics, if nothing else. Dude just cost the league millions of dollars.

Posted by Steeb on 02/03/22 at 01:49 PM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

What douche bag.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 02/03/22 at 01:59 PM ET

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It’s impossible for me to believe that Rocky didnt know about Kyle Beach within 24 hours of management knowing, so he is complicit too.

Posted by pnwwing on 02/03/22 at 03:17 PM ET

SYF's avatar

What a circus.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/03/22 at 03:36 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

The Wirtz family is just part of the Chicago Machine.  They have gotten where they are through greed, deceit, and covering things up.  They were finally caught and his true colors are being shown - it sucks when you can’t manipulate and pay off people to succeed.  Unfortunately they won and the names of those who knew will forever be on the Cup.

They fit in great in Chicago.

Posted by TreKronor on 02/03/22 at 05:00 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Except for Brad Aldrich.  They officially “x’d” out his name from the Cup.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/03/22 at 06:10 PM ET

Alan's avatar

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain’s Ship on 02/03/22 at 10:07 AM ET

The organization might be moving on, but if you think the negative impact on fans and other players will be minimal… I hate to be that guy, but the year isn’t 1982. This sorta thing isn’t swept under the rug like it used to be. This can, and likely will, affect their ability to attract sponsors as well as UFAs in the future, unless Rockey eats a whole lotta crow in the next day or so..

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 02/03/22 at 07:11 PM ET

Chet's avatar

When even Gretz is wondering aloud how their draftees are supposed to feel ok playing for them, they have a major problem. This is garbage. Jdunc, great post. He cost himself millions in franchise valuation and surely cost the league too. I don’t see a forced sale happening, but I imagine that’s the last we’re going to hear from him publicly on this and maybe any other issue affecting the team or the league.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 02/03/22 at 07:51 PM ET

Kaszycki and his Krew's avatar

For a guy who graduated from Northwestern with a degree in communications, Rocky Wirtz cannot communicate.

The CEO son needs to find a way to keep the chairman away from a microphone.  Put dad in a suite with his corporate pals and keep them locked in there.

Posted by Kaszycki and his Krew on 02/03/22 at 07:59 PM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

The organization might be moving on, but if you think the negative impact on fans and other players will be minimal… I hate to be that guy, but the year isn’t 1982. This sorta thing isn’t swept under the rug like it used to be. This can, and likely will, affect their ability to attract sponsors as well as UFAs in the future, unless Rockey eats a whole lotta crow in the next day or so..
Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 02/03/22 at 06:11 PM ET

He just gave a canned non-substantive cleanup apology, and that’s about all he’s going to do, maybe one more in person with the next media gaggle. 

And its just not going to matter, I’m not dismissing severity or anything, just voicing reality, today’s comments change nothing, young players will still dream of making and staying in the show,  UFAs will take the highest check, and if the team is cup competitive maybe less, that arena will be full when that team wins, and for advertisers, sports is still the best captative audience form of advertising.

What will matter is the opposite of future rug sweeping, especially in a hot media market like Chicago, there’s going to be so much attention on that team now, they better hope they treat every fringe member of that organization like gold. That too is reality.

 

Posted by MurrayChadwick from Window Seat on the Captain's Ship on 02/03/22 at 11:27 PM ET

d ca's avatar

Individually, Rocky Wirtz had steered largely clear of the fallout from the lawsuits. They obviously cost him money, time and some of the organization’s reputation, but he personally wasn’t too impacted….

...Fans were far from understanding, though, of what Rocky Wirtz ended up saying, and they turned on him in a way that they had never before….

...What Rocky Wirtz said Wednesday felt like a betrayal. It was as if they thought they knew Rocky Wirtz and discovered he wasn’t the person they’d assumed. And for all the goodwill Danny Wirtz and Faulkner may have been creating, no one was about to overlook what the team’s owner expressed. The boss’s opinion always trumps everyone else’s within an organization.

That is the reality of the issue. Nothing has changed in the organization because the guy in charge won’t let it change.

Rick Westhead, a TSN reporter, wrote that 3 more people are preparing to sue the Blackhawks.:

1) John Doe 3, a Miami (Ohio) alum who alleged Aldrich sexually assaulted him,

2) Black Ace 1, a former Blackhawks prospect who alleges Aldrich sexually harassed him,

3)Paul Vincent, a former Blackhawks coach who alleges the Blackhawks retaliated against him for wanting to report Beach’s claims to the police.

So now the NHL has to get involved again because it now includes allegations of retaliation against a coach by a team.

Posted by d ca on 02/04/22 at 04:05 AM ET

damndog revenge   From the bowels of Detroit's avatar

Posted by d ca on 02/04/22 at 03:05 AM ET

Not that the other allegations do not carry weight but Vincent’s claims should be the last lead block that breaks the axles of this tragic story. For all those at the top who claimed no knowledge of this BS going on will have their nads back in the vice

The sexual predators of this world have always gotten off easy in this country and many children, women and young adults have suffered in shame.

Posted by damndog revenge From the bowels of Detroit on 02/04/22 at 08:33 AM ET

SYF's avatar

I just sat down with Gary Bettman to talk about Rocky Wirtz’s outburst. He didn’t excuse it, but explained it as an “emotional response.” Insisted Wirtz’s heart is in the right place and that he’s fully empowered D. Wirtz and J. Faulkner to make positive changes. Story to come.— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus)

Well, that was NOT surprising.  Thanks, Gary.ASS.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 02/04/22 at 06:49 PM ET

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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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