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NHL fines Chicago Blackhawks $ 2 million, GM resigns over team handling of sexual assault allegation

The Chicago Blackhawks mismanaged allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup run, according to a franchise-commissioned investigation that cast a shadow over the NHL on Tuesday .

Stan Bowman, general manager and president of hockey operations, resigned following findings from an outside law firm, and the NHL fined the team $ 2 million for “inadequate internal procedures of organization and insufficient and premature response ”. Al MacIsaac, one of the hockey team’s best leaders, is also absent.

Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville and Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who were with the Blackhawks when the sexual assault allegations were first reported, were named in the report.

The Panthers declined to comment, citing plans by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to meet with Quenneville. There was no immediate word from the Jets on Cheveldayoff’s status.

NHL fines Chicago Blackhawks $ 2 million, GM resigns over team handling of sexual assault allegation
Chicago Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman speaks from the podium ahead of their 17th pick in the 2020 NHL Draft First Round at Fifth Third Arena on October 06, 2020, in Chicago, Illinois.

Taylor Wilder / NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block to conduct what they called an independent review in response to two lawsuits against the franchise: one by a player identified as John Doe alleging sexual assault by then-assistant coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 and another filed by a former student Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan.

The report, which team CEO Danny Wirtz called “both disturbing and difficult to read,” was released by the franchise. Former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who led the investigation, said the company had found no evidence that Wirtz or his father, Rocky, who owned the team, knew of the allegations before the trial of the former player is brought to their attention prior to his filing.

“It is clear that in 2010 the leadership of this organization put team performance first,” said Danny Wirtz. “John Doe deserved better from the Blackhawks.

The report states that John Doe was playing for the Blackhawks minor league affiliate team when, in the 2010 NHL playoffs, the 20-year-old was selected as “Black Ace” or “a potential player who could be. available to play for the Blackhawks as needed. “

In a statement released through his lawyer, Susan Loggans, John Doe said he was “grateful for the responsibility” shown by the Blackhawks.

“While nothing can really change the detriment of my life over the past decade because of the actions of one man within the Blackhawks organization, I am very grateful that the truth is being recognized, and I have look forward to continuing the long journey to recovery, “said John Doe.

Bowman said he was stepping down because he didn’t want to be a distraction for the team. He also resigned as general manager of the United States men’s hockey team at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.

“Eleven years ago, when I was serving my first year as general manager, I was made aware of potential inappropriate behavior by a video coach involving a player,” he said in a commentary. press release issued by the Blackhawks. “I quickly reported the matter to the then CEO, who vowed to handle the matter.

“I learned this year that the inappropriate behavior involved a serious allegation of sexual assault. I relied on my supervisor’s direction to take the appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing that he didn’t did not deal with the matter quickly, I regret to assume that he will. “

According to the report, the meeting between John Doe, then 20, and Aldrich, then 27, occurred on May 8 or 9, 2010. Doe told investigators it was not consensual, and Aldrich said yes.

On May 23, just after Chicago qualified for the Stanley Cup Final, Bowman, MacIsaac, former team president John McDonough, former executive vice president Jay Blunk and deputy general manager of the The Cheveldayoff era met with then-Quenneville coach and mental skills coach Jim Gary to discuss the allegations.

Schar said the meeting minutes “vary widely.”

“What is clear is that after being made aware of Aldrich’s alleged sexual harassment and misconduct with a player, no action was taken for three weeks,” said Schar.

According to the report, Bowman recalled that after learning of the incident, Quenneville shook his head and said that it was difficult for the team to get to where they were and that they could not process this. problem now.

The report found no evidence of an investigation or contact with human resources until McDonough informed the then director of human resources of the allegations on June 14 – a delay that violated Blackhawks policy about sexual harassment and had “consequences,” according to Schar.

“During this time, Aldrich continued to work and travel with the team,” said Schar. “On June 10, at a party after the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup win the day before, Aldrich made an unwanted sexual advance to a Blackhawks intern, who was 22 at the time.

“Also after the Stanley Cup victory, Aldrich continued to participate in the celebrations in the presence of John Doe, who had filed the complaint.

While announcing in July that he would participate in the team’s investigation, Quenneville said in a statement that he “first learned of these allegations from the media earlier this summer.”

Bettman has said he will “reserve judgment” on Quenneville and Cheveldayoff, and he plans to meet with them to discuss their roles in the situation.

Aldrich left the Blackhawks after the 2009-10 season.

The former player’s lawsuit, filed May 7 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that Aldrich also assaulted another unidentified Blackhawks player. The former player who sued and is referred to in the document as John Doe is asking for more than $ 150,000 in damages.

The eight-page lawsuit says Aldrich, then a video coach for the Blackhawks, “turned the porn on and began to masturbate in front of” the player without his consent. He says Aldrich also threatened to injure the player “physically, financially and emotionally” if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with him.

Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in prison for the Michigan assault.


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