Rocky Wirtz, An Alcoholic's Best Friend

Blackhawks owner determined to endear himself to fans

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Rocky Wirtz, the people's champion.

    First, he put the Blackhawks back on TV. Then he hired John McDonough. Then that duo oversaw a gigantic increase in local fan interest in the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the city's most storied franchises and one, until Wirtz took over the team from his deceased father Bill, also one of its most downtrodden. But no more. The Blackhawks are back, and Rocky Wirtz is largely to thank.

    Which makes this whole alcohol thing even cooler, really.

    See, Wirtz has filed a lawsuit claiming Governor Pat Quinn and other state leaders violated the constitution when they recently approved to expand taxes on alcohol sales. (Wirtz is also going after the gambling tax, but that's less of an issue for our purposes.) As any Illinois cigarette smoker can attest, higher taxes on stuff like this usually mean much higher prices for the consumer, which usually means less money we can spend on awesome things like cigarettes and alcohol. And what fun is that?

    Of course, Wirtz isn't doing this out of some Robin Hood-type impulse. He has his own business at stake. Besides owning the Hawks, Wirtz is also the president of a local beer and wine distributor, so this issue is probably more about money than about principle.

    Still, though, we salute Rocky Wirtz. It takes some serious stones to sue an entire state, and it takes even more to do so over a relatively uncontroversial liquor and gambling tax. But Wirtz is doing so. If returning the Blackhawks to relative glory -- or putting them on TV, at least -- isn't enough for you, perhaps an appeal to your liquor-infused taste buds will help. Anything else Wirtz can do for you? Foot rub. It's almost like he's trying to be popular.

    Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.