CHICAGO, April 1, 2008–WGN-TV announced today a 3-year agreement with the Chicago Blackhawks to televise in HD up to 20 Chicago Blackhawks games during the 2008-2009 season.
WGN Television had been the home of the Blackhawks from 1961 – 1975. The last time the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the clinching game was televised on WGN-TV on April 16, 1961.
“WGN-TV and the Chicago Blackhawks both have a long, proud tradition as important parts of the Chicago professional sports landscape,” said Tom Ehlmann, Vice President & General Manager of WGN Television. “We are excited to be reunited as partners once again with the Blackhawks, and thrilled to be able to televise these games to the loyal fans of this great franchise.”
For the first time in the team’s history, the Chicago Blackhawks will have their entire 82-game regular season schedule and playoff games televised on both cable and free television. The remaining games, less those chosen by the national television networks, will be televised in HD on Comcast SportsNet.
“Our fans want to be able to follow our team on a consistent basis from opening night through the playoffs,” said Blackhawks Chairman W. Rockwell “Rocky” Wirtz. “That’s why we are taking this step forward. Bringing Chicago Blackhawks hockey to our fans on both cable and free television will help us to continue the momentum and enthusiasm we have established this year. The combination of Comcast SportsNet and WGN-TV will give the Blackhawks two vehicles to expose both our young players and our seasoned veterans.”
The agreement, negotiated by Chicago Blackhawks president John McDonough, is yet another step by the organization to generate more enthusiasm about the team’s rich tradition and a promising future.
After assuming the role of chairman last fall, Mr. Wirtz moved swiftly to place a series of home games on television. He also appointed Mr. McDonough as the team’s new president. Under McDonough, the team brought back Blackhawk legends Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito to serve as ambassadors. Also, the team will hold its inaugural fan convention this summer.
“More than anyone, it is our fans and our sponsors that will benefit from this landmark agreement. We’re looking forward to working with our partners to bring more hockey into more Chicago homes for years to come,” said McDonough.
“I’m very proud of the years of comprehensive coverage our network has provided Chicago Blackhawks fans,” said James J. Corno, President of Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “Today’s announcement speaks volumes about the direction that Rocky and John are taking this team. This is truly a historic day in Chicago sports television history and we couldn’t be happier about our expanded number of games, along with WGN joining us as the other local TV home for Blackhawks hockey.”
The history of Blackhawks hockey on local regional sports television dates back to 1984 when Blackhawks games were televised on SportsVision. SportsVision later became SportsChannel which became Fox SportsNet and is currently Comcast SportsNet.