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First home game on TV: Nov. 11 vs. archrival Red Wings
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/22/2007 11:26 PM

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Even if you don't already have tickets for the Blackhawks' home game Nov. 11 against Detroit, you will be able to see the match.

On TV.

Yes, a home game on TV.

The franchise begins a new era on that Sunday at 6 p.m., when Rocky Wirtz broadcasts a home game on local television.

A team source is "99 percent'' certain that will be the first home game shown on CSN, the first of roughly 5-7 home games the rest of this season.

Wirtz would have done it sooner and would have done more if it could have been managed logistically, but it's pretty late in the game to get more than that number of high-definition home contests on TV in 2007-08.

As it is, when the first meeting occurred Thursday afternoon, according to a source, the Comcast folks were "shocked'' that Rocky Wirtz wanted to put home games on TV -- even though we made it clear weeks ago it was his intention -- and from that session to a meeting Monday, it took only four days to move mountains.

That should give you an idea of how fast things are happening at the UC these days.

If you're keeping score at home, the top three of Bill Wirtz, Peter Wirtz and Bob Pulford have all left the UC in the past few weeks.

Now, home games are back on TV.

And Kevin Ryan, a big name in the Wirtz distributorship, has been brought in to run the business side, look over the books, and get a handle on just how far behind the times the team has fallen.

People throughout the building are in shock, says a source, who noted that the days of "imperial bureaucracy'' are over, and that decisions that used to take weeks to filter all the way through the front office to Bill Wirtz are now taking minutes.

The pace is dizzying, the fear palpable.

Rocky Wirtz made it clear in one meeting, we're told, that the days of blaming others and making excuses are over, and that everyone is accountable from this point forward.

And from that standpoint, those running the hockey side are being given a clean slate by Wirtz, but not a free pass.

His backing -- his support, as it were -- extends only as far as their ability to perform, and if the Hawks continue to win, they'll be in good standing.

If they don't, the safety nets they once enjoyed officially are gone.

Wirtz is a brilliant businessman, and one way in which he works is to take from the equation all opportunities to rationalize away failure.

That's where the entire hockey operations department is today.

If it sounds like the Hawks need to make the playoffs for many people to keep their jobs, well, that might be true, and if it is, it's about time.

The Hawks have two terrific talents in Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and they should have two great players when they're drafting No. 3 and No. 1.

But Wirtz is aware of all the past failures, as well, and two players don't excuse years of poor drafting and missed playoff appearances.

It's also completely unfair to ask two kids to guide your team to the postseason in an incredibly competitive conference in which veterans and size rule the day.

So far, the Hawks have done a nice job coming from behind in a few games and surprising opponents.

Their youth and excitement on the ice has been refreshing, and the Toews goal against Colorado created a highlight not seen in these parts for years.

But a month from now, when teams begin to notice the Hawks have improved and take note of who on the team is doing the damage, the ice surface is going to shrink and the play will get much more physical.

When the Hawks can no longer surprise an opponent, we'll find out if this team can truly make a run at the postseason.

In NHL circles, talent evaluators generally look at the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas as the time teams settle down and decide who they are and what they intend to be.

In the meantime, if Hawks GM Dale Tallon wanted to prove to his new boss that he was in it for the team, for the future, and not just for Tallon, he'd trade Nikolai Khabibulin while the goalie is healthy, confident and winning, because those items can leave Khabibulin's possession at any time, if the last couple of years are any indication.

Not only would it save the franchise about $13 million the next two years, but maybe Tallon can find a veteran defenseman to shore up a shaky back line.

Not that you can expect to get a No. 1 or 2 defenseman for Khabibulin, but the Hawks could use one of each, and that cap space will come in handy next summer.

Regardless, these two kids -- Toews and Kane -- are worth watching, and if you're not among the likely sellout crowd on Nov. 11 against Detroit, you will be able to see them play at home and on TV that night.

Yes, things are happening at dizzying speeds on the West Side.

Not long ago, the joke was that the Hawks made changes at the pace of a Model T.

Now the mph are measured in Porsche.

Soon, they will talk in terms known only as Rocky Time.