Blackhawks Fans Push Back Against Exec's Comments

Chicago's Rocky Wirtz dismissed reporter's questions about sex-assault reforms
By Stephanie Mojica,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2022 4:08 PM CST
Blackhawks Fans Push Back Against Exec's Comments
Chicago Blackhawks team chairman Rocky Wirtz, seen in 2018, drew public ire with his refusal to answer questions about how the hockey team plans to prevent future sex abuse scandals,   (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski, File)

Though an alleged sexual abuse cover-up with the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team happened 12 years ago, fans and the public at large still want answers about how this will be prevented in the future—but they apparently won’t get any from the team’s executives, the Chicago Tribune reports. As a result, a growing number of (ex) fans are demanding refunds and tossing out team apparel. The dismay stemmed from a town hall meeting on Wednesday, during which a Blackhawks executive refused to answer questions from two reporters about the team’s plans to make sure what happened in 2010 between a former video coach and a prospective player doesn’t happen again, per WGN 9.

A reporter with the Athletic asked Rocky Wirtz (Blackhawks team chairman) about how the team plans to prevent a repeat of 2010, a situation that has drawn renewed interest due to an October 2021 report by the law firm Jenner & Block that alleges team executives mishandled the investigation in 2010. “The people that are involved are no longer here,” Wirtz said. “We’re not looking back to 2010, we’re looking forward, and we’re not going to talk about 2010.” When the reporter said he wasn’t talking about the report or 2010, Wirtz kept reiterating he wasn’t going to talk about it. Pressed further, Wirtz said it wasn’t the business of anyone outside of the company. A Tribune reporter also tried to ask questions. “I think you’re out of line…” Wirtz said. “Why do you bring up old business?”

After public backlash, Wirtz apologized via a prepared statement. “…my response to two questions crossed the line,” Wirtz wrote. “I want to apologize to the fans and those reporters, and I regret that my response overshadowed the great work this organization is doing to move forward.” The team has already suffered lower-than-normal ticket sales, partially due to the pandemic, and Wirtz’s initial comments didn’t foster goodwill among some fans interviewed by the Tribune. “I was rather furious at the moment to hear that answer,” one is quoted as telling the Tribune. Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that Wirtz “dropped a nuclear bomb on the concept of accountability” and “cannot be trusted” to ensure that what happened in 2010 is not repeated. (Read more Chicago Blackhawks stories.)

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