Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Bulls, Hawks eye new schedules
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz is in discussions with Ringling Bros. to change the November dates when the circus inhabits the United Center, forcing the Hawks and Chicago Bulls to be on the road for two weeks around Thanksgiving.
Wirtz said Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is on board, and Wirtz also said he'd like his team to be able to stay home in February when "Disney On Ice" puts the Bulls and Hawks on the road for three weeks.
"If we can renegotiate the (circus) contract, I've talked to Jerry about it, he'd be willing to do it, too," Wirtz said Tuesday. "It's just getting the Ringling Bros. folks on board. It's something we were trying to do anyway."
Wirtz was speaking the day after the NHL Board of Governors voted for massive re-alignment of the divisions and conferences starting next season. He said they are in "discussions" with Ringling Bros. about changing dates and indicated the Hawks and Bulls would like to be home for Thanksgiving.
"Anything we can do to help keep us in the building so we don't have to be out for two weeks would be a big plus for both the Bulls and the Hawks," Wirtz stated. "It's Thanksgiving, and even when we have the ice show in February (we'd like to stay). Those are key dates because there is not much else to do in Chicago."
Wirtz says even if they can't renegotiate with the circus -- Wirtz says they have "years" on their contract -- he's hopeful the circus trip might have a different itinerary.
"When these (west coast) games are during the week, it's hard to stay awake," Wirtz said. "Maybe the league will send us east now that we have to play every out of conference team home and away. That would be a plus, too."
Wirtz voted in favor of NHL re-alignment sighting "building geographical rivalries" as his major reason.
"I think it was good for the Hawks, good for the league and very much in favor of it," he said.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.