The full report outlining the investigation into allegations against former Chicago Blackhawks video coach, Brad Aldrich, has been released, leading to seismic changes within the team's front office and beyond.
Stan Bowman is out as General Manager and President of Hockey Operations. Al MacIsaac is out as Vice President of Hockey Operations. The NHL announced that they have fined the Blackhawks $2 million for its "inadequate procedures and mishandling". Blackhawks owner and Chairman, Rocky Wirtz announced that anyone involved in this incident back in 2010 will no longer be involved with the organization moving forward.
And the ripple effect has only just begun.
According to the report, which was conducted by the law firm Jenner & Block, a contingent of the Blackhawks' senior leadership trust met on May 23rd, 2010 to discuss the accusations that Brad Aldrich had sexually assaulted a Blackhawks player, prior to the team's Western Conference Final game against the San Jose Sharks.
(A warning: the report is disturbing. You can read the full 107-page report here).
In attendance at this meeting were Bowman and McIsaac, along with president and CEO John McDonough, coach Joel Quenneville, assistant GM Kevin Chevaldayoff, and executive vice president Jay Blunk.
Quenneville and Chevaldayoff are the only members of that group to still hold senior positions with NHL teams following Bowman's resignation today. Quenneville is currently coach of the Florida Panthers, and Cheveldayoff is GM of the Winnipeg Jets.
All three had publicly denied having knowledge of these accusations at the time. The Panthers told TheHockeyNews.com that "Commissioner Gary Bettman has indicated that he will be meeting with Joel Quenneville to discuss the events highlighted in the Jenner & Block October 2021 report. Accordingly, we have no comment."
In an official statement issued on July 13th, 2021, Quenneville said, “The allegations in this lawsuit are clearly serious. I first learned of these allegations through the media earlier this summer.”
He was at the meeting. That was a lie.
In an official statement issued on July 22, 2021, Chevaldayoff said, “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.”
He, too, was at the meeting. And that, too, was a lie.
According to the report, when Quenneville was made aware of the allegations against Aldrich, his response was that the team had worked hard to get this far in the postseason and that they "could not handle this right now".
Additionally, the report states that the Blackhawks director of human resources at the time revealed that McDonough, then-president and CEO of the Blackhawks, told her that the group that met on May 23 concluded they would not alert human resources or outside legal counsel so as to not "disturb team chemistry".
That same meeting, as previously stated, was attended by Quenneville and Chevaldayoff, both of whom went on public record to deny being aware of the allegations against Aldrich.
The Blackhawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup shortly thereafter.
On June 16th, 2010, days after the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory, the organization's Head of Human Resources, and outside counsel for the team met with Aldrich to inform him of the allegations made against him.
Aldrich was presented with two options: resign, or take a leave of absence while the organization launched a full internal investigation.
Aldrich chose to resign, therefore signing a separation agreement. He was paid $20,622 in severance, along with a $15,000 playoff bonus.
As outlined by the separation agreement, Aldrich was thereby prohibited from making any contact with Blackhawks players, employees, or personnel. Yet, as is evidenced in photos and multiple witness statements, Aldrich continued to participate in the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup celebrations, including being present at the parade, which put him in close proximity to John Doe.
In that same meeting with the Blackhawks head of HR, Aldrich then asked if he could still have his "day with the Cup". That request was granted by the HR head, and Aldrich was allowed to take the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Houghton, Michigan.
Two team employees were assigned to accompany Aldrich on his day with the Cup. One of them had previously alleged that Aldrich had "come on" to him outside of his apartment complex before "grabbing his crotch". According to the report, multiple team employees were aware of these allegations.
Despite the stipulations of his separation agreement, Aldrich still attended the Blackhawks' banner raising ceremony on October 9th, 2010. Following the game, Aldrich was then handed his Stanley Cup ring personally by MacIsaac, clearly violating the agreement.
What this report does is paint a horrifying picture of cover-ups and indifference by the Blackhawks organization when presented with multiple instances of corroborated sexual assault accusations against by their own employee.
While Aldrich was ultimately let go from the Blackhawks organization, he was still allowed to partake in all of the celebratory privileges that came with the team's Stanley Cup victory, clearly violating legally binding documents that were designed to keep him away from the very people he hurt, all under the watchful guise of senior leadership.
And now that the report has been published, the real shockwaves have only just begun.