The Chicago Blackhawks are reeling from the report of the independent investigation into allegations of sexual assault in 2010 by former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the mishandling of those matters by senior team executives. The aftermath could affect the futures of long-time stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
Both players participated in the investigation, claiming they knew nothing about the allegations at the time. They were not mentioned in the report's findings.
The Blackhawks' early-season struggles already prompted some observers to wonder whether Kane and/or Toews could be shopped before the March 21 trade deadline. Such a move seems unlikely with both players each carrying $10.5-million salary-cap hits through 2022-23 and full no-movement clauses.
That possibility, however, cannot be dismissed after Stan Bowman stepped aside as general manager on Tuesday. His replacement could keep Kane and Toews for the remainder of their contracts. On the other hand, one or both could be peddled in the trade market if the front office believes a major rebuild is in order.
A more likely scenario is Kane and Toews receiving contract extension offers next summer. Now in their early-30s, they won't get expensive long-term deals. They'll have to accept significant pay cuts on short-term deals to stay in Chicago.
Kane and Toews finishing their careers as Blackhawks once seemed a certainty. Given all that's transpired on and off the ice, however, they could reconsider their futures with the organization.
How the Blackhawks deal with the aftershocks from the scandal and their on-ice difficulties will be closely watched in the coming months. Where their franchise players fit into their plans remains to be seen.