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Rocky off to promising start as Blackhawks' new boss
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/16/2007 3:33 PM

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Maybe it's a small thing, but there are two new televisions in the Blackhawks' weight room at the Edge Ice Arena, their Bensenville practice facility, that weren't there when Rocky Wirtz took over as club chairman.

If anyone wants to read into it that the former senior vice president wouldn't approve the spending for the televisions, go ahead, you probably wouldn't be wrong.

It's the question most Hawks fans are asking: Is the team going to be run differently with Rocky Wirtz in the big chair?

The answer is... it sure seems that way.

Look no further than what happened last Thursday, less than a week after Rocky Wirtz took over, when Bob Pulford was relieved as Hawks senior vice president and transferred to a position in the Wirtz Corporation.

This never would have happened if Bill Wirtz were still alive.

The fact that Rocky Wirtz recognized Pulford's presence in the United Center gave the perception to the outside world that he was still making all the decisions was a critical moment in the recent history of the franchise.

According to a source close to Rocky Wirtz, physically removing Pulford from the building and moving his office across town was a symbolic move made to show Hawks fans that change is coming.

Rocky Wirtz has a plan to make the Hawks a profitable franchise again, not to continue as one that has lost at least $15 million a year going back several years. Wirtz believes that by making the team profitable, it will lead to success on the ice. He will spend money to make money.

And television figures prominently in the Hawks' future as a key marketing tool.

At some point between now and the start of next season, the Hawks will announce that home games, probably selected ones at first, will be televised locally. It's going to happen.

In the meantime, this is general manager Dale Tallon's show now, with only Rocky Wirtz above him on the masthead. Wirtz has confidence in Tallon and coach Denis Savard but consider both to be on short leashes, signed only through next season.

The Hawks must show serious signs of improvement and start winning games or Wirtz will "bring in people who will," according to the source.

These are fresh new days for the Hawks, on and off the ice. Rocky Wirtz means business and wants to bring to a quick end to the days of the Hawks being an NHL doormat.

Let's hope Wirtz can make it happen. He's off to a promising start.

Havlat's future cloudy: Another shoulder injury for Martin Havlat brings into serious question his future with the team.

Havlat would be an unrestricted free agent after next season, and there's no way the Hawks could even consider re-signing him if he can't stay healthy and on the ice - especially for the $6 million he is earning now or more.

Tonight will be the Hawks' 88th game since trading for Havlat and the 32nd he will have missed. Havlat appeared in only 18 games with Ottawa because of injuries the season before he was traded here.

Maybe Havlat returns this season, and maybe he doesn't. Either way, the Hawks are already thinking about whether he is someone they can commit to for the future.

tsassone@dailyherald.com