After an investigation into Chicago’s handling of sexual assault allegations, infuriating questions remain


By Scott Burnside

How sad that a judgment day for the National Hockey League and one of its flagship franchises, we find ourselves with many more questions than answers.

As is to be expected, at a time when the Chicago Blackhawks and the National Hockey League could have stepped forward to appropriate the shameful treatment of allegations of a player’s sexual assault by an employee of the League for a long time. team, virtually all of the key players have shirked their responsibilities.

How completely baffling after the details of an independent investigation were released into the team’s handling of the allegations against video coach Brad Aldrich, who was allowed to stay at work and celebrate the Stanley Cup victory with his victim before leaving for another job where he admitted to assaulting a minor, we remain unanswered to critical questions.

Like, how come Stan Bowman « retires » from his role as general manager of the Blackhawks after his role in a meeting about the alleged sexual assault of one of his players that did not result in any action for? three weeks? The fact that Bowman simply took no more responsibility away from former President John McDonough, who is no longer in the game, in a statement, is another matter of bad taste.

Why was Bowman not relieved of his duties by the team?

This may be semantics, but his resignation suggests that Bowman was the author of his own destiny. This is not what happened here. Maybe McDonough should have acted faster. But Bowman’s failure to follow through and push for the case to be taken to police or otherwise dealt with by the organization should have been grounds for dismissal. Don’t stray.

It is not the responsibility.

Likewise, the fact that USA Hockey announced on Tuesday night that Bowman had stepped down as general manager of the US men’s ice hockey team in Beijing in 2022 is also a bit misleading. The point is, USA Hockey couldn’t have Bowman in that role at the Olympics and they should have said so unequivocally. Again, the semantics, but the USA Hockey press release indicates that Bowman informed USA Hockey that he was withdrawing.

Again, this is not held responsible.

As for the other attendees who are now employed by other franchises, Commissioner Bettman said he will meet with Florida head coach Joel Quenneville (who was head coach of the Blackhawks at the time) and general manager of Winnipeg Kevin Cheveldayoff (who was in his last days as assistant general manager in Chicago before taking on his current role as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets).

Quenneville insisted he knew nothing about the assault allegations until Aldrich left the team when asked about the incident when the investigation was made public. This claim is contradicted by the investigation.

Why are Cheveldayoff and Quenneville not suspended from their functions until such a meeting takes place and the commissioner publicly announces whether there will be other sanctions for their role in this shameful situation?

Quenneville’s role in this regard certainly deserves close scrutiny. The report says that when senior team officials including Quenneville and Cheveldayoff met on the eve of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final to discuss what to do next after being made aware of the allegation of Sexual assault by one of their players, Quenneville voiced concerns about how the allegations and increased attention to them could impact preparation for the final series against Philadelphia.

In fact, nothing was done about the allegations for three weeks in which Aldrich traveled with the team. Then, after getting his Stanley Cup ring, the team gave him the option to quit, which he did. And even after that, Quenneville provided a glowing performance review for Aldridge after his resignation.

Cheveldayoff, who left the team shortly after the incident to take on his current role as Winnipeg’s general manager, appears less guilty given the report does not indicate he played a role in the reunion. It should also be noted that Cheveldayoff is said to have cooperated with investigators.

Yet isn’t this situation serious enough to warrant more due diligence? And during that due diligence, surely it’s not too much to ask these people to quit their jobs until the commissioner is satisfied that further sanctions are not necessary?

What about the Blackhawks players who have repeatedly denied knowing about the incident and what was going on?

There are references in the report and in separate lawsuits to victim « John Doe » being harassed by some teammates over the incident. Still, no one stepped forward at the time and many players on this team who still play in the league insisted they only knew vague details, if any.

There is no way to formally sanction players who were aware of the assault. But shame on all those who remained silent at the time and did not have the courage to come forward when this story broke a few months ago, thanks to the diligent work of investigative journalists in Chicago and Toronto.

As for making some sort of statement with his punishment of the organization, the NHL’s $ 2 million fine would be laughable if it wasn’t such a critical issue and a critical time.

As society strives to bring these kinds of incidents out of the shadows and encourage victims of all kinds to come forward, the league fine sends a different message.

The Arizona Coyotes waived a first- and second-round pick to test draft-eligible players outside of NHL rules. The New Jersey Devils were initially fined $ 3 million, a first-round pick and a third-round pick for Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract.

These were rule violations and you can tell these punishments were more severe than those imposed on the Blackhawks.

It’s all about covering up a sexual assault and the best the league could do was fine the team around the income from a home game, half of that money going to help victims. local abuse.

How about five first-round picks over 10 years? Or five choices in five years? And a $ 20 million fine with $ 5 million or more committed to help survivors of abuse?

How does what happened on Tuesday suggest that we have moved on from when it seemed perfectly normal for a group of men to sit down and decide that this was too much trouble and it would cause too much trouble. distraction from acting on a sexual assault allegation?

Well, at least the promise to share the details of the investigation with the public has been kept.

And the Blackhawks have publicly admitted that they’ve failed, with current CEO Danny Wirtz saying « John Doe deserves better from the Blackhawks. »

He is right. And it’s not nothing. But given all the unanswered questions surrounding this unfortunate event, we just don’t know how much more than nothing it really is.

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