Letter from Peter Wilt

Discussion in 'Chicago Fire' started by alf, Jan 22, 2003.

  1. alf

    alf Member+

    Jun 29, 1999
    Chicago Red Stars
    For those of you who are not, subscribe to the Fire Insider, here is another reason why:

    The Fire Insider - Wednesday, January 22, 2003

    Dear Fire Fans,

    I would like to take this opportunity to explain the Chicago Fire's recent moves and try to address any concerns you may have about the Fire going forward. The Fire had an embarrasment of riches over the last several years - we had assembled more talent than any MLS team has ever had. Last year, many players deferred salaries, gave up bonuses or hadn't reached their salary potential, which allowed the Fire to stay under the
    League salary budget for the 2002 season. This year, everything kicked in at the same time resulting in the quantum leap of salaries sending the Fire more than $1,000,000 over the salary budget.

    Even with the pending move of Hristo Stoitchkov, the trades of Dema Kovalenko and Josh Wolff, along with several players taking pay cuts this year, we were STILL significantly over the limit, resulting in the unthinkable trade of our
    captain and leader Peter Nowak. Unfortunately, the only real aternatives to trading any of those four in order to get under the salary budget included
    trading Carlos Bocanegra or Chris Armas, which we refused to do for the following reasons.

    We believe that Carlos and Chris can help the Fire compete for more championships for years to come while Peter and Hristo would likely only give the Fire one more year. Josh had requested a trade knowing that the Fire could only afford to keep him or Ante as a maximum salaried forward and his injury
    history meant he felt that he needed a fresh
    start with another team. Dema is another player that we did NOT want to trade, but given the option of trading him, Carlos or Chris, we believe we made the best move for the Fire and our fans.

    I am more frustrated and torn about losing Peter than anyone could be with the exception of Peter himself. We exhausted all options including naming him a player/assistant coach in order to shave some money off the player budget, but it was still not possible to keep him and keep the team under
    the salary budget. Any alternatives would have resulted in crippling the team.

    Despite all the trades, we STILL have one of the most talented groups in MLS including Zach Thornton, Orlando Perez, Carlos Bocanegra, Jim Curtin, CJ Brown, Evan Whitfield, Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch, DaMarcus Beasley, Ante Razov and Rodrigo Faria - seven US National Team veterans and eight MLS All-Stars in the group! The difference this year is that our depth will be much younger and less experienced than last year.

    Chris will now be the oldest player at age 31 and the average age has fallen to 24. i do believe that Justin Mapp, Dipsy Selolwane, Kelly Gray, Craig Capano, Henry Ring and our SuperDraft picks including Nate Jaqua and Damani Ralph - will
    give the Fire the most talented youth group in MLS. The challenge will be developing them quickly enough to contribute when called upon. We are now positioned well to start another five year period of success in Major League Soccer.

    I understand fans' reluctance to accept the young players as important contributors to the team. Please remember, however, the Fire's situation five
    years ago - several veteran players (Nowak, Roman Kosecki, Jerzy Podbrozny, Lubos Kubik, Francis Okaroh, Frank Klopas) mixed with many young, inexperienced players looking for a chance to prove themselves (Thornton, Brown, Wolff, Armas,
    Diego Gutierrez, Marsch, Razov).

    When you think about it, we are now in a very similar position, only now the veterans are the former young Americans (Thornton, Brown, Armas, Marsch, Razov) who have taken the mantle and the group of young players are as talented or more
    so than their predecessors - Beasley, Bocanegra, Gray, Whitfield, Selolwane, Rodrigo Faria, Capano, Ralph, Mapp, Jaqua, Mike Nugent, Logan Pause, Ryan Mack, Phil Swenda, Chad Dombrowski and Ryan Futagaki. The Fire has always taken great
    pride in developing young American players and we will continue to do so.

    The MLS system makes our job challenging. It also gives all teams a chance to compete rather than the dynastic situations created in sports without salary caps. I believe that we are smart enough to play within the rules and stay one step ahead of the curve in order to maintain a Fire team that can continue to compete for the MLS Championship every year. We have made the playoffs every
    year and we provided Fire fans three championships in our first five years.

    I understand that people will miss certain players. Some of those people may choose not to support the Fire anymore. If that is the case, then I believe that they were never truly fans of the Fire, but only fans of those individual players. I hope you will all continue to support the Fire in our new era as you have in the past. Your support is important to me and the team - we care.

    Thank you,

    peter wilt
    General Manager
    bunge repped this.
  2. alf

    alf Member+

    Jun 29, 1999
    Chicago Red Stars
    Really lets the people who don't follow the team closely/who aren't bigsoccer folks know the real situation about why trades had to happen.
  3. jmeissen0

    jmeissen0 New Member

    Mar 31, 2001
    page 1078
    fire til i die
  4. Bethany

    Bethany New Member

    Sep 3, 2002
    Wow, I don't think I'm alone in saying that we have a GREAT GM. Thanks for the letter PW!

  5. Orange Seats

    Orange Seats New Member

    May 10, 2001
    Thanks for the letter Peter. GO Fire!
  6. FlashMan

    FlashMan Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    as a neutral, all i can say is that's a great letter.

    you guys are lucky to root for such a class organization, with peter wilt at its head.
  7. HalaMadrid

    HalaMadrid Member

    Apr 9, 1999


    Ridiculously well put. Everybody should get a copy of this letter.
  8. Cougar Jim

    Cougar Jim New Member

    Mar 15, 2001


  9. bunge

    bunge BigSoccer Supporter

    Oct 24, 2000
    I send a copy to my mom.
  10. GoFireGo

    GoFireGo New Member

    Apr 25, 2002
    This is a great gesture and a great explanation of everything as well, he cleared up some things I still had questions on.

    April 13 cant come fast enough. 81 days!
  11. Fuegofan

    Fuegofan Member

    Feb 17, 2001
    No doubt about it, Peter Wilt is a class act. Very happy to have him at the helm.
  12. JeffGMc

    JeffGMc Member

    Oct 14, 2000
    New York City
    Chicago Fire
    I've said it before, I'll say it again.

    Peter Wilt: God Among Men.
  13. FireFan1

    FireFan1 New Member

    Feb 25, 1999
    Des Moines, IA
    Class Act.
    Enough Said.
  14. Arsonists

    Arsonists New Member

    Jan 25, 2000
    Banks of Plum Creek
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United Arab Emirates

    Yes Peter you are a hard working guy who has done a very good job over the years but jesus "god among men". Lets save that for Eisenhower, George Best or at least Peter North.

    I like what is going on with the team. I am looking forward to the day when the FIRE are back in SF with a good young team. It will be fun to see the band wagon full again. Even more fun to see the bitchers and moaners with their collective foot in their mouths.

    Thanks Peter! Good work in a hard spot and nice draft. If we stay away from the Dr. this year we will be a good team.

    Go Fire!

    p.s. yes Jeff I know.......
  15. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Whos the Best GM in the league?
  16. Hard Karl

    Hard Karl New Member

    Sep 3, 2002
    WB05 Compound
    I think its things like this that set the Fire apart from other MLS teams (or any league for that matter). I am proud to be a Fire supporter.

  17. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    I can't think of a GM in any other sport that is so in tune with the fans. Thanks Peter.

    Now, if only the league would be so open about issues like salary caps, allocations etc.
  18. Jeremy Goodwin

    Feb 16, 1999
    Montreal Impact
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Based on this figure, we're working with a seriously depressed operating salary budget this season. Possibly down by 500k to 750k depending on just how much salary was deferred into this season, and what sort of bonuses are counted against this year's salary (New England will possibly be running into a similar issue next season, based on the reports on Twellman's new contract, which includes significant performance bonuses, which will all be presumably counted against the following year's salary budget).

    Basically, our salary cap this year is effectively 1 to 1.25 million, based on my estimates.

    And we will still win the goddamn domestic treble before LA, and it will be this season :)
  19. kpaulson

    kpaulson New Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Washington DC
    I circulated that letter around to a few co-workers in my office that are sports fans, but not really soccer fans. All of them were amazed that the General Manager would send out something that seems so open about the team's issues.

    I know it's just a marketing tool like anything else, but it's an effective one. I'm almost about ready to buy a pair of season tickets even though, living in London, making games in Naperville is tough.

    Very well done.
  20. redzin

    redzin New Member

    Jan 6, 2000
    I couldn't agree more with this statement. Even though I knew all the issues already it sure is great to hear "officially" from your GM. Very smart to keep your core supporters well informed and appreciated.

    No matter what happens on the field this year (and I'm not convinced it will be bad) PW is not only the best GM in MLS but most certainly in all of Chicago. (And I'd even say that if any of the other GMs knew how to get their head out of their a$$.)
  21. -cman-

    -cman- New Member

    Apr 2, 2001
    Clinton, Iowa
    God, how I love this team.
  22. RobtheAggie

    RobtheAggie Member+

    Sep 10, 2001
    Middle Georgia
    Rochester Rhinos
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    What an amazing thing. Can you imagine George Steinbrenner sending one of these out? I did have one question though. I noticed that nowhere was there mention of Lucci Gonzalez. Anyone know if he is still with the team?
  23. whirlwind

    whirlwind New Member

    Apr 4, 2000
    Plymouth, MI, USA
    Peter's brilliant selection of adjective in one word managed to bring empathy, resigned acceptance... that was genius.

    Trading the aged, injury-prone, ineffective and overpaid while keeping the young, gifted nucleus is, really, the best any GM can hope to do.

    Thank you...
  24. krolpolski

    krolpolski Member+


    Thank you for addressing us Fire faithful. I think many of us share your sentinments and will continue to support the Fire.

    However, I have to take issue with one aspect of your letter.

    I think you have to look at where those original veteran players played on the field. Nowak, Kosecki, Podbrozny, Klopas were all offensive threats, and you could even add Kubik to that list.

    Most of the veterans you mentioned in the 2003 version of the Fire are defensive players. Yes, you have Ante and Faria, but experience has taught Fire fans to expect that one or more of their go-to-guys will suffer a long-term injury during each season. After those two boys there is not much experience up top.

    Worse, where such experience is particularly needed -- central or offensive midfielder -- there is a gaping hole. Unless that particular style of play will be abandoned by the Fire.

    Not that I'm complaining. I understand the situation you were faced with the salary cap. One can only hope that the new guys on the team step up as quickly as possible so that they are ready when we are once again challenging for the league championship.

    My point, simply, is that you can't really compare the two situations.
  25. joseph pakovits

    joseph pakovits New Member

    Apr 29, 1999
    fly-over country
    Re: Re: Letter from Peter Wilt

    Well, the big difference is that the current moves were forced on us by either the league or, much the same thing these days, AEG.

    The one move that has really and universally pissed off most Fire fans is the league's (or AEG's) not letting Nowak retire with the Fire, which is a move that many people (and not all of them Fire fans by any means) feel was shabby and unnecessary, given some of the shenanigans the league has committed in the past. At least Peter Wilt has taken the time to communicate to the fans his own disgust with the situation as far as he is allowed to by obvious political constraints.

    What's done is done, though, and we fans can't change it so we might as well hunker down for what will likely be another ugly season in Naperville. At least we can reasonably expect to be challenging for silverware in another few years after Dave and the newbies have settled into the squad and this is more than some MLS fans can expect from their team. If Dave can recreate the shock of 1998 this year, so much the better! See you at NCC in a few months.

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