This is a sad, sad day for sports media in Chicago. Tim Sassone, the long-time Blackhawks writer for the Daily Herald, passed away this morning at the age of 58.
In an era where it seems to be all about calling attention to yourself, Sassone quietly, but earnestly went about the business of covering hockey. Mark Lazerus of the Sun-Times noted he started on the Hawks beat in 1988, the year Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were born. Quite a run and legacy.
The outpouring of tributes to Sassone underscore the respect and admiration people had for him in the press box. I compiled a collection via Twitter and Facebook:
Toews via Lazerus of Sun-Times: “It’s not an easy thing to see. Obviously, there’s the Blackhawks family — the players. the people that work in the office, the people that make this thing go every day. And I think people like him are a part of that, that write so many good things. He’s such a huge part of the Blackhawks story, especially the last little while. It’s sad to see it happen to someone who’s so close to all the action like that.”
Mark Lazarus: Remembrances poured in from around Chicago and the hockey world on Twitter for a man whose “Gruff” nickname and refreshingly honest media persona belied one of the friendliest, most likable — and to younger journalists, most helpful — people in hockey and in journalism.
Tracey Myers: Thoughts and prayers to the family of Tim Sassone. We lost one of the best in our business. Miss you, Gruff; rest in peace.
Chris Kuc: Tim Sassone was not only a terrific journalist, he was a great man and even better friend. I miss him already.
Bruce Miles: The Daily Herald and everyone who knew him lost a great one today in Tim Sassone, our longtime Blackhawks beat writer. Tim battled illness the last couple of years. He was among the most respected hockey writers in North America, but he also skillfully covered many other sports, including helping me out on the Cubs beat. He was a great friend. I don’t use this term for many, but he was “the beat writer’s beat writer.” Hall of Fame person and newspaperman.
Herb Gould: Tim Sassone gone? I cannot fathom this. Spent 5 years chasing
#Blackhawks pucks with him. Like a brother. Awful. Awful. Awful.
Lindsey Whilhitte: Just crushed to hear the news about my friend and former Herald teammate Tim Sassone. Spent the day with him in Philadelphia when the Hawks won the 2010 Cup. On almost no sleep, he did radio interviews across North America in the morning, wrote multiple stories during the day and night (including a game story that won national awards) and we were just about the last people in the building along with the cleaning staff. Long but rewarding day. I have a treasured photo of him jammed in the corner of the service elevator at 2 a.m. alongside the cleaning ladies and their wares — and the wry look on his face is priceless. A consummate pro and a good man. Damn.
Len Ziehm: I’ve just learned of the death of Tim Sassone, known nation-wide as the Blackhawks’ beat writer for the Daily Herald. To me he was much more than the best beat writer the Hawks ever had, he was also a pro’s pro on the newspaper front. We spent nine years covering the Hawks together and a few more when we did Wolves’ games. But I especially remember how he so capably filled in during the Ryder Cup at Medinah when he was pushed in at the last minute to write the lead story on the final day. Quite a task but Tim, as always, was up to it. A great family man and dedicated journalist, the world needs more Tim Sassones. I considered him a good friend, and I’ll certainly miss him.
Tim Cronin: Saddened and shocked that Tim Sassone has died today. Wonderful person, dogged reporter, brilliant writer.
Roman Modrowski: So shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of long-time Daily Herald Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone. He was one of the kindest, most genuine and professional people I have ever met. I’ll never forget as a young writer at the NWI Times, covering the Hawks part time, and Eddie Belfour had made headlines with a meltdown during a game. The next day, Belfour told Hawks PR he would only talk to the Chicago writers, Sass and the Trib and Sun-Times writers. Sass said he wouldn’t do it unless I was included. He didn’t have to do that, but he felt it was the right thing to do. Belfour relented because it was Sass, and I was part of the interview. That was Sass. Always thinking of others. And he always had a smile. What a loss.
David Schuster: So incredibly sad to learn of the passing of one of the solid pros and real gentlemen in our business. The Daily Herald’s Tim Sassone was Chicago hockey. He knew the game and business inside and out but he was also a friendly gentle person. Tim battled his illness with quiet dignity before finally succumbing to it. He never complained and he remained upbeat throughout. Tim will be greatly missed. R.I.P.
Mark Potash: When I was re-introduced to
#Blackhawks coverage in 2009-10, I re-learned hockey by reading and talking to Tim Sassone. He was the best.
Judd Sirott: Tim Sassone was the dean of the Blackhawks beat writers. He was a must read. A great man; a great pro; a great character. Sad news today.
Cheryl Rae-Stout: Very sad to hear about Tim Sassone’s passing, he was a pro’s pro. For my money, the best hockey writer in the Chicago area. He grew up where my husband was from and we shared many stories about the “Feast” in Melrose Park . Tim was so proud talking about his son (who is the same age as mine) and their love for sports. My heart goes out to his family and his co-workers at the Daily Herald.