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TheStreet Open House

Wirtz: Talking About the Best of Everything

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) --- William Rockwell Wirtz, aka "Rocky," is principal owner of the Chicago Blackhawks NHL team and Wirtz Corp., a conglomerate of industries that include real estate, banking, insurance and the Wirtz Beverage Group, for which son Danny is vice president of spirits marketing and sales.

Father and son sat recently to talk about the team, its Stanley Cup win, the pleasures of drink and delights of family and the city they call home.

Rocky, you took over as chairman of the Blackhawks in the fall of 2007. At the beginning of this season, your fifth in charge, you're able to look back on an impressive and growing list of achievements. Aside from winning the Stanley Cup -- that's too easy -- what is your proudest moment as head of the Hawks?

Rocky: Seeing 2 million people on a beautiful Friday afternoon in Chicago celebrating a hometown win. It was both gratifying and humbling to be a part of it.

Your changes really helped usher the team -- and the perception of the team -- into a new era. To think that five years ago, the Blackhawks weren't even on TV in Chicago. Now Danny is tweeting about watching Hawks games on his iPhone. How do you approach and manage the balance between hockey's rich tradition and necessary innovation?

Rocky: It is no different than how you sell Crown Royal or Smirnoff, two brands with rich histories. You honor the past by embracing fresh ideas and by bringing in the right people. You have to entrust the people in your organization to find the right talent and let them do their job.

The old adage: You've got to spend money to make money. It's another one of the philosophical changes you made to the business of the Blackhawks. You believe in it, but it wasn't something the team had been used to when you took over. What advice, with that in mind, would you give a new business owner with very little money to spend?

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