Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz balked at two questions at a town hall on Wednesday regarding how the organization moves forward following the 2010 sexual assault scandal involving former player Kyle Beach.
The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus asked Wirtz about how the organization plans to empower its players in similar situations moving forward, and the Blackhawks owner responded with a blisteringly arrogant response.
For the purpose of full transparency, here’s the exchange:
Here’s the full segment/video. Just ridiculous from Rocky Wirtz. pic.twitter.com/9k9QxKW0gI
— Wally Maz (@WallMaz35) February 3, 2022
Lazerus: Much of what happened to Kyle Beach stemmed from a power imbalance between a coach and a player and the powerlessness of a player in that situation. So what are the Blackhawks doing, what have the Blackhawks done, what will the Blackhawks do to empower a player in a similar situation to make sure that doesn’t happen again?
Wirtz, addressing the panel: I’m going to answer the question.
Wirtz, continued: I think the report speaks for itself. The people that were involved are no longer here. We’re not looking back at 2010, we’re looking forward. We’re not going to talk about 2010.
Lazerus: I’m not talking about 2010 —
Wirtz: And I’m not, either. And we’re not going to talk about what happened. We’re moving forward. That is my answer. And what’s your next question?
After this exchange, Danny Wirtz — Rocky’s son and CEO of the Blackhawks, attempted to interject, but was cut off by his irate father.
watching danny wirtz try to give an appropriate response and getting cut off by rocky wirtz going off the rails is basically a scene out of season 3 of succession
— Sam (@samanthacp_) February 3, 2022
Danny Wirtz: I can pick up, too. What we are doing today —
Rocky Wirtz: No. That’s none of your business! That’s none of your business! What we’re going to do today is our business. I don’t think it’s any of your business.
Lazerus: How is it not my business?
Rocky Wirtz: Because I don’t think it’s any of your business. You don’t work for the company. If someone in the company asks that question, we’ll answer it. And I think you should get on to the next subject. We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach, we’re not going to talk about anything that happened. We’re moving on. What more do I have to say? You want to keep asking the same question? Ask the next question!
Lazerus: You’ve said enough right there.
The elder Wirtz had previously stated in December, that the Blackhawks would be “a beacon for professionalism, respect and integrity in our community.” Wirtz evidently has a short memory as these qualities clearly evaded him on Wednesday.
But this horror show of a press conference didn’t stop there. Rocky Wirtz then proceeded to berate Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune for asking about how the organization plans to protect players, before shifting his focus to a question about why attendance is declining and why season ticket holders should have an incentive to value the team going forward.
Wirtz didn’t allow Thompson to get his initial question off, meeting him with sheer, unwarranted hostility, while yelling that he’s done speaking about the 2010 sexual assault.
Here is the full video of the exchange between Rocky Wirtz and Thompson. Wirtz apologized hours later in a brief statement, saying his comments "crossed the line."
— Wally Maz (@WallMaz35) February 3, 2022
It’s an absolutely pathetic showing from Wirtz — both Wirtz members, really — and by extension, the Blackhawks on a larger scale. Of course the owner and CEO of the franchise should’ve been prepared to hear questions about how they’re planning to be proactive after being complicit in one of the most horrific scandals in hockey history. But Wirtz hasn’t been held accountable for decades and frothed under reasonable questioning.
And for the record, my question was about what the Blackhawks are doing NOW and in the FUTURE. Just an unbelievable, unprofessional response from someone who should know better.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 3, 2022
FYI, Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz approached me after the town hall to say he'd be happy to discuss team values and culture and protocols to protect players in the future.
Needless to say, at the time I tried to follow up with Rocky, things got a little heated.
— Phillip Thompson (@_phil_thompson) February 3, 2022
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