One thing we always try to do here at SCH is find a unique perspective regarding these Chicago Blackhawks, to approach storylines at an angle that hasn’t been observed before or present information in a way that can’t be found anywhere else.
Right now, all I can offer is a baffled shrug of the shoulders.
What else is there to say other than the obvious: that Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz was a complete, utter embarrassment with this tirade aimed at a pair of reporters during Wednesday’s town hall session?
Did that happen?
It’s a question asked both earnestly and rhetorically because I’m still befuddled by the whole situation. How did that seem like the appropriate response to a pair of what were perfectly reasonable questions from Mark Lazerus of The Athletic first and Phillip Thompson of the Chicago Tribune second? How is berating the reporters and bellowing “WE’RE NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT 2010” in the angriest of angry dad voices something that seemed appropriate for that situation?
Bold strategy, Rocky, because now every media outlet is talking about it.
Neither Rocky nor team CEO Danny Wirtz had been in front of the media since the results of the internal investigation were made public. These questions could’ve been asked back in October, but the Wirtzes decided to hide behind a Zoom call without taking any questions after making their comments then. The decision to have a town hall on Wednesday felt like another step in the right direction away from the disaster that was October.
But there’s no way they didn’t know those questions were coming. Thompson wrote about the topic for an article that posted Wednesday morning! Lazerus did the same thing on Monday! Each reporter foretold what they were going to ask when given the opportunity to speak on Wednesday night. The organization clearly intended to allow those two reporters a chance to ask questions by having them on the call. None of this was by accident.
Somehow, still: that was the response.
You don’t need me to tell you how terrible Rocky Wirtz’s actions were. Danny Wirtz’s attempted interjection — quickly rebuffed by his father — can tell you. The awkwardness expressed by the body language of president of business operations Jamie Faulkner and event host Eddie Olczyk can tell you. Every hockey-related account active on Twitter Wednesday evening can tell you. Wayne freaking Gretzky can tell you.
Everyone except Rocky Wirtz, of course.
And that’s the issue here, isn’t it? Thursday will arrive and Rocky Wirtz is still going to be the team chairman. Accountability doesn’t exist in his world save for a half-assed “apology” that almost certainly wasn’t written by him. Maybe commissioner Gary Bettman will slap him with another BIG FINE just like Bettman did in October as the only punishment that came down from league offices. Rocky Wirtz might have reach all the way to his back pocket to the pay this one. But he’s still going to be around. His shadow will cast a pall over this organization for as long as he’s around. Like father, like son in that regard, I guess.
That brings me to one final thought: if this is what happens with Rocky Wirtz after he spent the last decade catching the endless bouquets thrown his way, what reason is there to believe that Rocky’s son, Danny, is going to be the knight in shining armor who saves the day?