CHICAGO -- William Wirtz was as well known as the
Blackhawks, and the famed owner was remembered as one of the
towering figures in Chicago's sports history.
"He was a giant among men," said boxing promoter Don King, who
knew Wirtz from fights at old Chicago Stadium. "He represented the
liveliness of the city."
Hundreds of mourners from the world of hockey and sports
gathered Monday for funeral services for Wirtz, 77, who died
Wednesday of cancer.
Befitting Wirtz's place in Chicago's sports landscape, those in
attendance included Blackhawks greats such as Stan Mikita and Chris
Chelios, as well as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Chicago Bulls
and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, and Detroit Red Wings owner
"I came here as a young boy, to Chicago, and to be fathered and
grandfathered by Mr. Wirtz was a privilege," said Darryl Sutter, a
former Blackhawks player and coach and one of several former
players who recalled Wirtz's role as a father figure.
Wirtz, long known for his tightfisted negotiations with big-name
players, earning him the nickname "Dollar Bill," and his refusal
to televise Blackhawks home games, was remembered for his
generosity, devotion to his family and sense of humor.
Dale Tallon, general manager of the Blackhawks, recalled fond
memories of Wirtz's fun-loving attitude. One year, during a
Christmas party at the United Center, Santa failed to show up on
time. When Tallon's daughter asked Wirtz where Santa was, Wirtz
told her, "Santa just got pulled over on Madison for speeding."
Wirtz is survived by his wife Alice, five children and seven