Alumnus Rocky Wirtz takes Chicago Blackhawks to the top

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June 16, 2015

In hockey, it’s called a hat trick. Three goals, made by the same player.

Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks made the team’s goal of winning the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup for the third time in six seasons—giving a hat trick to the team and its owner, Northwestern University School of Communication alumnus W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz (C75)


© Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

The team has now won the Cup six times in its history, but not on home ice since 1938. The crowd, a capacity-level 22,424 spectators, was decidedly enthusiastic. The Stanley Cup was a little late to its own party due to rain-flooded streets, but in the end, the team hoisted the Cup one by one for the crowd.

Wirtz took a turn with the Cup, of course. Blackhawks teammates Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane may have put a goal apiece into the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net to seal the victory, but the turnaround of the team over the last eight years—from thousands of empty seats at home games to millions of fans expected at the team’s celebration parade in downtown Chicago on Thursday—has been Wirtz’s real victory.

Rocky was just two years old when his grandfather, Arthur Wirtz, purchased the Chicago Blackhawks in 1954. He grew up in the storied Chicago Stadium. In 2007 he took over as president of Wirtz Corporation and chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks, following the death of his father, William W. Wirtz.

At Northwestern, Wirtz is a member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees and the School of Communication’s National Advisory Board. In 2014, Wirtz and his wife Marilyn endowed the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts in the School of Communication, named after Wirtz’s beloved grandmother, Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz (EB24), who inspired him to attend Northwestern. The Wirtzes are also the benefactors behind the Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Visiting Artist Program, which brings talented and successful performing arts professionals to campus to work with Northwestern students and faculty. Recent guests have included actor-director David Schwimmer (C88) and award-winning playwright Lydia Diamond (C92).

Wirtz is also a donor to the new Music and Communication Building, which opened this spring.