General manager Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac absent after Chicago Blackhawks buried sexual assault allegations

General manager Stan Bowman and senior hockey operations executive Al MacIsaac are no longer employees of the Chicago Blackhawks after the findings of an independent investigation, released on Tuesday, revealed that team executives have buried sexual assault allegations against video coach Brad Aldrich that came to their attention in 2010.

Bowman released a statement through the Blackhawks saying he « had withdrawn » implying that was his decision. The team said only the executives involved in the 2010 incident, including MacIsaac, were « no longer employed. »

Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz said Kyle Davidson, vice president of hockey strategy and analysis, will take on interim Bowman role as search is conducted for « new hockey leadership. « .

The Blackhawks were also fined $ 2 million by the NHL, following the findings of the result, which is nothing less than New Jersey’s $ 3 million was fined for Ilya Kovalchuk’s illegal contract or the draft picks the Arizona Coyotes were docked for illegally physically testing the draft. eligible prospects.

In June, the Blackhawks hired Chicago-based company Jenner & Block to conduct an independent investigation into a lawsuit that was filed by a former gamer named John Doe in court and report.

Jenner & Block’s 107-page report, which included interviews and statements from Aldrich, 139 witnesses, 21 current and former players and 14 members of Chicago’s 2009-10 Stanley Cup winning team, was released public Tuesday. [Content warning: Graphic descriptions of sexual assault.]

“The report is both disturbing and difficult to read. It speaks for itself, ”Wirtz said in a statement prepared at a press briefing. “We talk a lot about hockey culture. I believe one of the beautiful parts of our game is the focus on team success rather than individual achievements and accolades.

“But this cannot be done at the expense of individual safety and well-being. It is clear that in 2010, the leaders of this organization place above all else the performance of the teams. John Doe deserves better from the Blackhawks.

According to the report, MacIsaac – then senior director of hockey administration – was told by a team employee of a sexual encounter that occurred between John Doe, a 20-year-old Blackhawks player who was featured on the roster during the Chicago playoffs. , then video coach Aldrich.

According to the report, MacIsaac passed this information on to Jim Gary – the Blackhawks’ trainer and mental skills advisor – who gathered details of a story Gary « believed to be true: that Aldrich was pressuring John Doe to sleep with him and Aldrich told John Doe that if he doesn’t comply, Aldrich could damage John Doe’s career.

On May 23, 2010, an hour after the Blackhawks secured their spot for the Stanley Cup Final by winning the Western Conference, Chicago’s senior executives gathered in the office of the President and CEO of then John McDonough to discuss the incident and Gary’s findings.

In attendance, according to the report, were McDonough, Bowman, MacIsaac, then Executive Vice President Jay Blunk, then Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, and Head Coach of the time, Joel Quenneville.

[Cheveldayoff is now GM of the Winnipeg Jets; Quenneville is now head coach of the Florida Panthers; McDonough and Blunk departed the organization in 2020.]

« All participants recalled being informed that there had been an incident between Aldrich and John Doe involving unwelcome sexual advance, » the report said.

Bowman recalled, according to the report, that McDonough and Quenneville commented at the meeting « on the challenge of getting to the Stanley Cup Final and the desire to focus on the team and the playoffs. »

MacIsaac later told another team employee that McDonough « didn’t want negative publicity during the Stanley Cup Final. »

Bowman also recalled that McDonough referred to his former employer, the Chicago Cubs, saying that « the Blackhawks may never get this far in the playoffs again and they need to think about when they are going to handle the problem. » .

So McDonough, as the team’s most senior official, kept the information to himself until the end of the playoffs, according to the report.

« Our investigation revealed no evidence that McDonough or anyone else contacted [Blackhawks] Human Resources or opened an investigation between May 23 and June 14.

Aldrich, then 27, was allowed to continue in his role as a video coach in the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on June 9 in Philadelphia. Aldrich celebrated with the team on the ice.

A day later, on June 10 in Chicago, Aldrich then made another unwanted « sexual advance » and physically touched a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern after a night of partying.

On June 14, more than three weeks after learning of the allegations, McDonough finally informed Blackhawks Human Relations that Aldrich had made a sexual advance on John Doe, the player, in May.

McDonough also briefed her on the May 23 meeting in her office, in which McDonough said it was decided that the group would not alert HR or make a decision, according to the director of human relations. anything about the incident during the playoffs so as not to disturb. chemist team. « 

Two days after being made aware of the incident, Blackhawks HR met with Aldrich and gave him the option to undergo an investigation into the sexual relationship with John Doe or to resign.

Aldrich was paid regularly until August 31, 2010, received $ 22,622 in severance pay and received a $ 15,000 playoff bonus. He also negotiated to participate in the tradition of his day with the Stanley Cup, which was awarded to him. The Blackhawks then engraved Aldrich’s name on the Stanley Cup in October, after stepping down from the team, he attended the team’s banner-raising ceremony at the United Center and received a championship ring. .

After his resignation from the Blackhawks, Aldrich continued to sexually assault other people.

A former high school hockey player filed a complaint last summer, alleging that the Blackhawks provided Aldrich with « positive references to future employers as a hockey coach despite knowledge of his sexual assault » and « n Bradley Aldrich has not reported to any hockey organization or supervisory coach. . « 

In 2013, Aldrich was convicted of Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in an unrelated incident involving a Michigan high school student.

Tuesday’s detailed report sent shrapnel flying throughout the National Hockey League.

Bowman stepped down later Tuesday afternoon as general manager of the U.S. team’s entry into the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

What is the next step for Quenneville and Cheveldayoff? NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement he would set up personal meetings with the two to discuss their roles in the incident and that he « would reserve to judge next steps, if any. , concerning them ”.

The Jets released a statement from Cheveldayoff saying, “I have shared everything I know about this matter as part of my participation in the Jenner & Block investigation. This is reflected in today’s investigation report. In addition, I look forward to my discussion with Commissioner Bettman as soon as possible in order to continue to cooperate fully with the National Hockey League. I will reserve any further comments until this conversation has been concluded.

Quenneville could be the subject of further scrutiny, as the report did not indicate that Cheveldayoff – the most junior member in the room – had much to say.

According to the report, at that May 23, 2010 meeting, Bowman said Quenneville shook his head and remarked « that it was difficult for the team to get to where they were and they couldn’t. not solve the problem now ”.

After Aldrich resigned because of the sexual relationship, Quenneville also wrote Aldrich a complimentary performance review included in the report which read: “Aldrich did a great job for the coaching staff in preparing us for all of our work. meetings and coordinating several tasks that we pass on to him. . Brad has several people who rely on him at the same time and he has a way of deflecting and accommodating everyone at the same time… Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup!

The Panthers said in a statement that « therefore, we have no comment, » citing Bettman’s announcement that the commissioner would meet with Quenneville soon.

Meanwhile, as the rest of the NHL grapple with the pitfalls of low-key hockey culture, the Blackhawks attempt to pick up the pieces of a shattered reputation – a stunning fall from grace for the so-called model organization that was The envy of the league in a decade that has seen them win three Stanley Cups starting with that race in 2010 which will be marred forever.

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