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Flashback #74: Bill Wirtz Dies (2007)

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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As of 670 The Score’s 20th Anniversary on January 3rd, the station has begun to reveal (in chronological order) the Top 100 Chicago Sports Stories that have occurred since they first went on the air 20 years ago. Once all 100 of these “flashbacks” have been revealed, fans will be able to vote for which stories they believe are the most significant in the 20 year history of The Score. To see all of the Flashbacks that The Score has posted so far, please visit 670 The Score’s 20th Anniversary page.

September 26, 2007 – Bill Wirtz dies

On September 26, 2007 one of the most vilified owners in Chicago sports history died.

When Bill Wirtz – owner and president of the Blackhawks – passed away, Blackhawks fans admittedly felt a sense of relief for their franchise.

Wirtz was known for his stubbornness and frugality, even earning the nickname “Dollar Bill” Wirtz. He refused to pay big money for key players and wouldn’t allow the Blackhawks’ home games to be broadcast on local television unless they were picked up by national broadcasters, which only happened when the Blackhawks made the playoffs.

As Wirtz believed, broadcasting regular home games was unfair to season-ticket holders. Although during the 1992 and 1993 seasons, Wirtz introduced Hawkvision, a pay-per-view service where ‘Hawks fans could watch their team for $29.95 per month.

The day after Wirtz’s death, his son Peter was named the owner and president of the Blackhawks, yet Peter later passed the responsibility to his brother Rocky.

Reports indicate that during a tribute and moment of silence for Wirtz during the Blackhawks home opener of the 2007 season, the crowd at the United Center displayed their displeasure with Wirtz by booing the proceedings.

Shortly after Wirtz died, the Blackhawks hired John McDonough as their president.

The Score will continue to release a new Flashback each weekday until they reach 100. Check back tomorrow for a new one, or check out all of the previous Flashbacks: 670 The Score’s 20th Anniversary »