The same group that owns the Chicago Blackhawks and co-owns the United Center, now owns a junior hockey team based in Geneva.
The Chicago Steel announced yesterday the sale of their team to the Wirtz Corporation.
The corporation was led by Rocky Wirtz, who passed away last week at the age of 70.
“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. 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,” said Jim English, Chief Financial Officer of Wirtz Corporation.
The sale culminates the eight-year ownership of Larry Robbins, during which the Steel became one of the most prominent junior hockey clubs in the world. Robbins, an Arlington Heights native, purchased the Steel in May 2015 and the club relocated from Bensenville to Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva that summer.
39 players with Steel ties have been selected in the NHL Draft since 2015 including #1 overall pick Owen Power (2021, Buffalo) and #3 overall selection Adam Fantilli (2023, Columbus). The Steel had the most draft picks of any independent junior team in the world in back-to-back drafts (2020 & 2021).
160 Steel players since 2015 have earned NCAA Division I commitments, and three former Steel players earned 2023 Rookie of the Year honors in their respective conferences, Adam Fantilli (Big Ten), Sam Lipkin (ECAC) and Jackson Blake (NCHC). Fantilli won the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in 2023 given to the nation’s top men’s ice hockey player while Lipkin won an NCAA National Championship.
In 2022-2023, the Steel finished first in the Eastern Conference for the fourth consecutive season and were led by rookie Macklin Celebrini who became the first player in USHL history to win Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and Rookie of the Year in the same season. In addition to player advancement, 11 members of the Steel hockey staff have matriculated to NHL organizations including current New York Rangers Assistant Coach Dan Muse (Steel 2015-2017) and Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant General Manager Ryan Hardy (Steel 2018-2021). Two previous Steel head coaches, Greg Moore (2018-2019) and Brock Sheahan (2019-2022) each jumped from behind the Steel bench to head coaching roles in the American Hockey League, and Steel Director of Player Enhancement Adam Nicholas was named Montreal Canadiens Director of Hockey Development in 2022.