CHICAGO — The owners of the Chicago Blackhawks completed a purchase of another hockey team on Monday.
It’s one that helps to develop players before reaching the NHL level – and has done well doing so the past few years.
The Wirtz Corporation completed the purchase of the United States Hockey League’s Chicago Steel on Tuesday, making the team the latest to join the company’s business portfolio.
It’s the third hockey team that is owned by the corporation that was founded in 1926 by Arthur Wirtz and based in Chicago. They became full owners of the Blackhawks in 1966 and purchased the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs in April 2021.
This acquisition comes just days after the death of company owner and CEO Rocky Wirtz at the age of 70 after a short illness on July 25. With his son Danny now leading the company, Wirtz Corporation completed the purchase of the Steel from Arlington Heights native Larry Robbins, who owned it since 2015.
He will remain on in an advisory role with the current hockey and business leadership in the franchise remaining in place through the transition.
“The Chicago Steel acquisition comes as a positive during a very difficult week for the Wirtz family due to the recent passing of Rocky Wirtz, but Rocky cared deeply about growing the game of hockey at all levels and was so excited about the opportunity to welcome this incredible junior program into the Wirtz Corporation portfolio,” said Wirtz Corporation chief financial officer in a statement. “We look forward to carrying on his legacy and supporting the Steel players and Steel organization with the resources needed to continue their great success.”
Founded in 1996 as the Fargo-Moorehead Ice Sharks, in the USHL, the team moved to Bensenville in 2000 and was renamed the Chicago Steel. Upon Robbins’ purchase of the franchise from Bruce Liimatainen and Mike Greenberg in May 2015, they moved to Geneva, where they currently call home.
Since that year, the Steel have won two Clark Cups and two Anderson Cups (USHL team with the most regular season points) while accumulating the most regular season wins (287) and playoff wins (29) in the USHL during that span. The Steel also has a strong track record of sending players to colleges along with professional hockey organizations.
- 160 players from the Steel since 2015 have earned NCAA Division I commitments.
- 39 players with ties to the franchise have been selected in the NHL Draft since 2015.
- 2021 No. 1 overall pick Owen Power (Sabres) and 2023 No. 3 overall pick Adam Fantilli (Blue Jackets) played for the Steel.