A Winnetka native, William "Bill" Wirtz served as Blackhawks team president for 41 years until his death on Sept. 26, 2007 at age 77. Wirtz was chairman of the NHL's Board of Governors for 18 years and helped guide the direction of the league as one of the most influential owners in the sport. Often vilified by fans for taking what they perceived as a frugal approach to the team's payroll, Wirtz was also often criticized for not televising the home games. He was also unpopular with many fans because of the departures of many of their top players -- including Bobby Hull, Jeremy Roenick and Ed Belfour -- due to monetary factors. Along with Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, Wirtz backed the building of the United Center where the Hawks moved for the 1994-95 season. Not long after Wirtz's death, his son Rocky took over as Chairman of the Hawks.
CHARLES CHERNEY, CHICAGO TRIBUNE