Following the death of Rocky Wirtz, Chicago sports owners released statements on behalf of their respective teams.
Jerry Reinsdorf, owner and chairman of the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, and his son, Michael, CEO of the Bulls, released statements on behalf of the White Sox and Bulls, respectively.
George H. McCaskey, chairman of the Chicago Bears, also released a statement on Tuesday evening, along with Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Chicago Cubs.
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Here is Jerry's statement on behalf of the White Sox:
"This is just shocking news, and I am personally devastated. Rocky truly was a great man. We were far more than partners at the United Center. We were very close; he was a dear friend and our trust, our bond, was unbreakable. We never had a disagreement or argument during all of our many years together.
"Everyone liked Rocky. He was smart, passionate, generous, personable and friendly. He cared deeply about the Blackhawks, the people who worked for the team and at the United Center, Blackhawks fans and the city of Chicago. He was so very proud of the Stanley Cup Championships and what those trophies meant to the organization, the city and the fans.
"He was deservedly proud, as well, when it came to his countless civic and charitable endeavors and the positive impact they made on so many. This is a loss for us all. My condolences go out to Marilyn, his children and grandchildren, and the entire Wirtz family.
"His passing came far too soon as he had so very much to live for."
Here is Michael's statement on behalf of the Bulls:
"The city of Chicago has lost an iconic figure today, but to me, the loss is beyond business or sports. It is the loss of a family member. Rocky was someone who from a young age, I looked up to and was a constant presence in my life. From his daughter Hilary teaching my and Nancy’s kids, to our daughter Jenny marrying his nephew Will, this is a family loss.
"His unwavering commitment to the Blackhawks, the United Center, Chicago sports and the community will be his legacy to the city and millions of Blackhawk fans. We are heartbroken for his kids, Danny, Hilary, Kendall and Elizabeth, his wife Marilyn, and his entire family. We cherish the memories we have shared with Rocky and will forever remember him as a great friend and a true family member."
Here is McCaskey's statement on behalf of the Bears:
"On behalf of the McCaskey family and the entire Bears Family, we would like to share our sincere condolences on the passing of Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz. Under his leadership, Rocky set the bar for excellence extremely high in Chicago with three Stanley Cup championships in recent years and, more importantly, was a gentleman, a family man and a friend to so many. He was also very giving of countless resources to the community in and around Chicagoland. Our prayers go out to the Wirtz family and the Blackhawks franchise."
Here is Rickett's statement:
"On behalf of the Chicago Cubs, our thoughts and prayers are with the Wirtz family during this difficult time. After taking over as owner of the Blackhawks in 2007, Rocky turned the organization into a premier franchise, winning three Stanley Cups and creating wonderful memories for hockey fans both in Chicago and all over the world. He was also an integral part of NBC Sports Chicago and proved to be a great partner in helping to bring Chicago sports fans coverage of the Cubs, as well as the Blackhawks, White Sox and Bulls. Rocky was a remarkable visionary and will be remembered for making a profound impact in the Chicago sports community. On a personal level, I will always remember Rocky as a friend."
Wirtz, who was also the owner of the Wirtz Corp, which included Breakthru Beverage Group, took over as the owner in 2007 after his father Bill passed away. Rocky was the fifth principal owner in franchise history; his grandfather Arthur purchased a stake in the Blackhawks in 1950 and acquired majority ownership in 1966.
Wirtz immediately revitalized hockey in Chicago, which started by televising home games and spending money, whether it was inside the organization or for the on-ice product. Shortly after he took over, the Blackhawks' popularity exploded, they became a staple in outdoor games, and put together a dynastic run in the salary cap era by winning three Stanley Cups in six years.