Thanks a whole lot, Dollar BIll

"Dollar Bill" Wirtz was one of the least-popular owners in professional sports history. His loyalty to incompetent underlings, his habit of trading star players for broken hockey sticks, and what appeared to be a generally cynical attitude toward Blackhawk fans nearly killed the franchise.

But perhaps his most damaging legacy was the NHL salary cap. Every year since the first of the Hawks' recent run of Stanley Cups back in 2010, they've had to amputate vital parts of the team in order to fit under the cap. Brandon Saad, Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Michael Frolik,Nick Leddy, and Brian Campbell have all had to be sacrificed to Dollar Bill's bright idea. A strong run by the Hawks in recent years might well have been one of the most dominant dynasties in NHL history otherwise.

Now the cap has cost the team Teuvo Teravainen, a 19-year old star who had figured to be a fixture on the Hawks for years to come. True, the need to unload Bryan Bickel, a sometime playoff star who didn't seem to show up in the regular season but whose salary was an albatross around the Hawks' neck the team just couldn't sustain, played a larger role than Teravainin's cost in forcing the move.

The acumen of Wirtz's son Rocky and the genius of General Manager Stan Bowman have managed to scrap and scrape up the pieces to keep the Hawks strong Stanley Cup contenders year after year anyway. But one has to wonder how long this can go on.

The Hawks have been something special in recent years. But one can only dream of what could have been if they'd been able to keep even a few of the stars they've had to sacrifice to the Cap.

Even from the grave, Bill Wirtz continues to give Blackhawk fans fits.


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