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SBD/June 26, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
In the aftermath of the Blackhawks' second Stanley Cup win in four seasons, it is "still amazing to think of how far the organization has come" since the death of Owner Bill Wirtz in '07, according to Barry Rozner of the Illinois DAILY HERALD. It is "worth remembering" that team Chair Rocky Wirtz "stayed away from the team the last few years of his father’s life because he didn’t want to be associated with how the team was being run." The "big change was Rocky taking over the team," putting President & CEO John McDonough "in charge and then letting the hockey people do what they had to do to become successful." McDonough yesterday said, "What we have now is a great organization, with so many great people. There's dozens and dozens of people who make this happen, but none of it works without Rocky. He hires people and he lets them work. I'm really proud to work for him and I'm proud of what the franchise has been able to do" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/26). In Chicago, John Kass writes, "Wirtz brought hockey back to the fans of Chicago." The Blackhawks in '04 were "widely considered to be the worst franchise in all of sports." Fans "didn't show, they didn't care," and the home games "weren't even on TV." So when Bill Wirtz died in '07, Rocky "built a new organization." Rocky Wirtz among Chicago sports team owners is the "only one who is truly loved by the fans." The others "don't even come close" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/26). Wirtz said that the Blackhawks "still lose money." But in Illinois, Mike Imrem writes, "A good guess is that these Stanley Cup victories are intoxicating enough that to add on the family will keep anteing up for as long as it takes to turn a profit." The goal "has to be to become those Bulls of hockey, the Yankees of winter, a historic NHL juggernaut like Montreal and Edmonton once were" (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 6/26).
DREAMS OF A DYNASTY: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell wrote, "With two Stanley Cups in four years, this is about as close to a dynasty as we’re going to see in the NHL these days." The potential for more is "on the horizon with this group." That is "good for Chicago, great for the NHL and the business of hockey and wonderful for anyone who has an appreciation for comeback stories and the rich history of the game" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 6/25). YAHOO SPORTS' Nicholas Cotsonika wrote team GM Stan Bowman is "committed to the core," and "rebuilt the supporting cast after chopping half the Cup team in a salary-cap crunch in the summer of 2010." He "stuck with coach Joel Quenneville despite two first-round playoff losses, not to mention a nine-game losing streak last season that had the headhunters banging their drums." Cotsonika: "The best part? Bowman will not have to break up the team the way he did in 2010." He will have to "make changes, especially with the salary cap coming down next season." But he has "learned from experience and planned for this, and the Blackhawks will not need an overhaul" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/24). In Chicago, David Haugh writes, "Bowman never wavered, not even with his boss." He "stayed away from signing a big name to relieve public -- or private -- pressure and placed his faith in the core of a team coming off two straight first-round exits." Bowman's "conviction persuaded McDonough to stay the course." Sticking with a "plan instead of succumbing to public calls for change also fit into the way ... Rocky Wirtz likes to operate." Wirtz: "Like all the businesses our family runs, we don't let emotion guide your better judgment. So why would we do that for a sports team just because somebody writes about them every day" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/26).
HIT PARADE: In Chicago, Smith, Sege & St. Clair in a front-page piece note the Blackhawks yesterday were "trotting the Stanley Cup around the city in celebration." Using "social media, traditional news sources and the old-fashioned rumor mill, the Blackhawks faithful tracked the storied trophy from O'Hare International Airport to Michigan Avenue, with stops at a suburban restaurant, a South Side bar and the United Center in between" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/26).
Glendale City Council members yesterday after a four-hour private session said that they were "still unable to settle" on a Jobing.com Arena deal for the Coyotes "worthy of bringing to a vote," according to Paul Giblin of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. Council members are "seeking more assurances" from prospective Coyotes owners Renaissance Sports & Entertainment that hockey will be "a money-making venture." Glendale Exec Communication Dir Julie Frisoni said that Acting City Manager Dick Bowers will "continue negotiations" with RSE. She added that the council will "meet in private session again Friday to reconsider the matter." Frisoni also said that it is "still possible that the council could vote on the matter" next Tuesday. She said, "It seems tight that we would hit a July 2 date, but I would tell you that anything is possible." Giblin notes the deal "focuses on a proposed-use agreement for the city-owned arena." RSE execs "want to be paid as much as" $15M a year to operate the facility, which is $9M "more than the city had budgeted." RSE execs also have "offered to reimburse the city millions by providing slices of ticket surcharges, parking revenue, naming rights and other potential profits" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 6/26). FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com's Craig Morgan noted multiple reports on Monday surfaced that Glendale "might use City Hall as collateral to borrow" $30M to help pay off two $25M "commitments the city made" to the NHL for arena management fees. The commitments were "made in exchange for the league operating Jobing.com Arena in fiscal years" '11 and '12 (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/25).
Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver said he feels like he has the right management team with the hiring of GM Ryan McDonough and new coach Jeff Hornacek, but the "proof's going to be in the pudding." Sarver in an interview with AZCENTRAL.com added, "They've got a lot of work ahead of them and we'll see what the results are. It's a results business." Sarver when asked how long it will be before the Suns are back among the elite teams in the NBA said, "You've got to have some patience in order to rebuild the right way. One of the things when I had discussions and we interviewed various GM candidates, the top candidates all said the same thing: 'I don't want to come here if you're just trying to get back to average.'" Sarver noted it will "probably take us a couple of years to really get ourselves rolling at the level we're accustomed to." The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley, who helped conduct the interview, noted President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby would like Sarver to "act more presidential, more like [Patriots Owner] Robert Kraft." Sarver said, "In terms of my personality, people that I went to high school and college with say I'm the same person." However, Sarver said he moved his courtside seats from the mid-court because "sometimes my face got red during the game" and his wife "was afraid that maybe I'd have a heart attack so she moved back to the corner." Sarver: "To be honest, I love those seats because you really get a chance to see how all the plays unfold." Sarver said he has no intention of selling the team despite its value of around $600M because "I enjoy the business, my partners love it, we want to win, we want to bring home a championship. After we do that, we'll talk about it" (AZCENTRAL.com, 6/24).