The NHL announced on Friday morning that it will not impose discipline upon Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for his role in handling the 2010 sexual assault allegations against former Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich.
Per the official release, the NHL, "concluded that Cheveldayoff was not responsible for the improper decisions made by the Chicago Blackhawks related to the Brad Aldrich matter in 2010, which decisions resulted in the Club’s delayed and inadequate response to a report of serious, inappropriate conduct as between Aldrich and Blackhawks’ prospect, Kyle Beach."
The decision comes in the wake of Cheveldayoff's meeting with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday at the league head office in New York.
On Thursday, former Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville met with Bettman as well, and ultimately resigned from his position as head coach of the Florida Panthers shortly thereafter.
Stating his reasoning behind sparing Cheveldayoff of discipline, Bettman concluded that Cheveldayoff was "not a member of the Blackhawks senior leadership team in 2010" and that he "cannot, therefore, assign to him responsibility for the Club’s actions, or inactions."
Cheveldayoff served as Blackhawks assistant general manager in 2010.
At the very least, however, Cheveldayoff held a senior enough position within the organization's power structure to be included in exclusive and vital decision-making processes.
On May 23rd, 2010, Cheveldayoff attended a meeting held in San Jose between the Blackhawks' senior leadership trust that included Quenneville, general manager Stan Bowman, Team President & CEO John McDonough, VP of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, and Executive Vice President Jay Blunk. It was at this meeting that the allegations against Aldrich were discussed.
Each attendee of this meeting has since left the Blackhawks organization.
As outlined in the report published by law firm Jenner & Block, the Blackhawks' head of human resources in 2010 stated in her interview that McDonough told her that the group decided not to alert outside legal counsel or human resources until after the playoffs were finished so as to not "disturb team chemistry".
Cheveldayoff was part of that aforementioned group. The role he played in reaching that decision is unclear. But multiple witness statements nonetheless place him in the room.
Aldrich was then allowed to participate in team-sanctioned celebratory activities relating to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup victory even after he was forced to resign. Those activities included attending the team's victory parade in close proximity to Kyle Beach, along with being given his "day with the Cup", and being personally handed his championship ring four months later following the Blackhawks' banner raising ceremony by MacIsaac – in violation of a separation agreement that barred him from having contact with any players, employees, or team personnel.
Furthermore, in a statement issued on July 22, 2021, Cheveldayoff addressed his knowledge of the allegations by stating, "I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks.”
The meeting that Cheveldayoff attended with other members of the Blackhawks leadership group, as previously stated, was held on May 23, 2010. Aldrich's employment with the Blackhawks concluded on June 16, 2010, thereby establishing a period of three weeks separating the two events.
What his statement supposes, then, is that Cheveldayoff had no knowledge whatsoever of the allegations prior to attending that meeting, and was also completely unaware of what topic was to be discussed in that meeting prior to walking through the door.
That is seemingly the account of events that Bettman believes. Hence; Cheveldayoff is cleared.
It is also worth noting that, according to the report, there were no conversations had prior to the last game of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals regarding whether it was appropriate to limit Brad Aldrich's contact with the Black Aces (of which Beach was a member), Blackhawks personnel, or players.
The Stanley Cup was awarded on June 9, 2010, 12 days after Cheveldayoff learned of the allegations.
So, as stated in the report, not once in those 12 days did Cheveldayoff, the team's assistant general manager, engage in a conversation with anyone about whether Aldrich should be restricted access to a group featuring a player who had recently levied accusations of sexual assault against him.
As it is written, Cheveldayoff's statement cannot be disproven.
However, Cheveldayoff still held a senior role within the Blackhawks organization, was one of the select front office members to attend the meeting about the allegations (from which, it's worth noting, Director of Player Personnel Marc Bergevin was absent), and upon learning of them, held no conversations about limiting Aldrich's access to players or employees until at least after the Stanley Cup was awarded.
While the facts at hand do not directly implicate Cheveldayoff in regards to his statement, they nonetheless paint a troubling pattern of ignorance on Cheveldayoff's part amidst an extremely serious accusation levied against one of his subordinates.
As the league sees it, Cheveldayoff's actions do not warrant any discipline whatsoever.