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updated: 2/28/2014 7:12 PM

Rocky Wirtz happy, but hungry for more

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  • Rocky Wirtz

    Rocky Wirtz

  • Video: Soldier Field transformed


It was a game that some point to as signaling the rebirth of the Blackhawks.

The last time the Hawks played outdoors was on New Year's Day 2009 -- in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were in their second seasons in the league and the Hawks were building a team after many down years that would go on to win two Stanley Cups in four years starting in 2010.

"(At the 2009) Winter Classic, people were just starting to discover the Hawks," chairman Rocky Wirtz said Friday, the day before the Hawks were to host Pittsburgh at Soldier Field in a Stadium Series game (7 p.m., NBC).

"After winning a couple championships, the fan base is a little bigger but we have a long way to go. But it'll be exciting. We have a little bit of snow; it'll be much like the New Year's Day game. It'll be a lot of fun."

Hawks president and CEO John McDonough strongly lobbied NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman for a second crack at an outdoor game.

Now it's here.

"What it does is it brings in people who are normally not thinking about hockey; it expands the reach," Wirtz said. "It brings people in from out of town and it's great for the city. At least 20,000 fans are coming in for Pittsburgh and in general, and those not going to the games are going to their favorite watering holes to watch the game. So it's great for restaurants and bars."

Chicago is back on the hockey map -- and Toews, Kane, Wirtz and McDonough have put them there.

"It's just an exciting thing to do (before) the beginning spring, when it's 20 below and there's snow in the air," Wirtz said.

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