Apology fuels more furor in Chicago

Five days after being fired by CSN Chicago, when her role in an off-color web series came to light following an embarrassing on-air slip-up, Blackhawks reporter Susannah Collins is finally speaking out, and she’s taking the high road with regard to her dismissal.

On Tuesday, Collins posted a message to her Facebook page accepting responsibility for her involvement in Sports Nutz, a suggestive sports comedy show that aired on YouTube between June 2009 and April 2010.

Collins’ full statement reads as follows: “As most of you know by now, I had a slip-up last week on the air while covering the Blackhawks playoff series. As a result of the attention it received, an old web-based sports comedy series I participated in several years ago came to light. The intention of that show was to present a satirical, tongue-in-cheek approach to sports but, unfortunately, some of the material it contained was off-color and offensive. I understand why some may have been offended by it and for this I am truly sorry. To be clear, that show in no way reflects my personal opinions.

“It has always been my dream to cover my hometown teams on the network I loved watching. I have worked tirelessly to develop my skills as a sports reporter, anchor and host, and I want to thank the city of Chicago for allowing me that opportunity. The outpouring of support I have received is overwhelming and it will remain in my heart, as will Chicago. Always.”

Collins’ apology comes three days after a Chicago Tribune report revealed that the decision to fire Collins came from Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz, who also owns part of CSN Chicago.

In the letter, sent to CSN Chicago executives and obtained by the Tribune, Wirtz requested that CSN Chicago "remove (Collins) from our broadcast immediately," after learning that Collins starred in Sports Nutz several years before joining the network in September 2012.

The Sports Nutz videos came to light after an on-air slip of the tongue in which Collins reported that the Blackhawks “had a tremendous amount of sex” this season.

"In my opinion and those of others, (the videos) are incredibly offensive to a number of audiences, going well beyond professional athletes," Wirtz wrote.

"Had we known of this earlier, we would have raised the issue immediately."

It’s likely not the first time that a company has applied a little revisionist history to a hiring gone wrong, and there are certainly plenty who agree that Collins had no place on Blackhawks broadcasts, given her raunchy past.

But firing Collins after the fact when her involvement in Sports Nutz was so widely known still seems like a questionable call, and opens up a can of worms for the Blackhawks, as Dan Berstein pointed out in his column Tuesday at CBSChicago.com.

In it, Bernstein calls for the firing of Bobby Hull, the longtime Blackhawks winger and Hockey Hall of Famer who is currently employed as an official ambassador for the team. Hull, who spent 15 years with the franchise from 1957-72, has reportedly had a history of domestic violence, starting with his ex-wife Joanne, who told ESPN in 2002 that she had “taken a real beating” during a trip to Hawaii.

"[Bobby] just picked me up, threw me over his shoulder, threw me in the room, and just proceeded to knock the heck out of me," Joanne said. "He took my shoe — with a steel heel — and proceeded to hit me in the head. I was covered with blood. And I can remember him holding me over the balcony and I thought this is the end, I’m going."

Joanne also told ESPN of the time when Hull threatened her with a loaded shotgun, which ultimately led to the couple’s divorce. Bernstein also points out another accusation of Hull abusing his third wife, Deborah, in 1986, and his 1998 proclamation that “Hitler had some good ideas.”

Writes Bernstein: “Simply, there cannot be two sets of rules for being a part of the Blackhawks organization. If the silly, debatably funny bits Collins did were worthy of severing her association with the team despite their existence being known and initially accepted by her employer, then Hull’s ugly history of beating women clearly rises to that level. … Bobby Hull must be deemed similarly unworthy of his role as an official representative of the Chicago Blackhawks.”