The Chicago Blackhawks held a private Zoom press conference on Tuesday afternoon to share the results of the team’s independent investigation regarding the sexual assault allegations surrounding former video coach Brad Aldrich.
Reports leading up to the press conference indicated big organizational changes were expected, and those expectations were confirmed with the firing of Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac, the resignation of General Manager Stan Bowman and all remaining executives involved in the incident also leaving the team. The Blackhawks announced that Kyle Davidson will serve as the interim general manager of the team moving forward until a new general manager is found.
Following the press conference, the NHL announced the Blackhawks have been fined $2 million for inadequate procedures and mishandling of the incident.
The press conference began with Chairman Rocky Wirtz stating both he and Danny Wirtz—who was not with the organization at the time—were unaware of the allegations until the lawsuits were filed. Dany Wirtz later stated the Blackhawks’ legal team has been instructed to fairly compensate “John Doe,” the player who filed the lawsuit, and that “Doe” deserved far better from the team.
Reid Schar of Jenner and Block, who led the investigation, stated that “Doe” was a 20-year-old member of the Rockford IceHogs who had been called up as a Black Ace during the Blackhawks’ 2010 playoff run.
Schar shared that on May 8 or 9, 2010, “Doe” and Aldrich had a sexual encounter. During the investigation, “Doe” stated the encounter was non-consensual, while Aldrich stated it was consensual. MacIsaac was informed of the situation on May 23, 2010, and MacIsaac then dispatched Mental Skills Coach James Gary to discuss the incident with the player.
Bowman, MacIsaac, then-Executive Vice President Jay Blunk, then-Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, then-President John McDonough and then-Head Coach Joel Quenneville met that same day to discuss the incident. One witness involved in the investigation stated the decision was left in McDonough’s hands, and McDonough did not report the incident to the Blackhawks’ Director of Human Resources until June 14, 2010. It was also revealed that during the meeting Quenneville shook his head and shared the focus needed to remain on hockey and it was hard for the team to get where they were and that they could not deal with the incident at that time.
A second incident occurred after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup on June 9, 2010, as Aldrich made an unwanted sexual advance on a 22-year-old intern at a team party on June 10, 2010.
Upon McDonough informing the Director of Human Resources, the Director of Human Resources gave Aldrich the option to undergo an investigation or resign on June 16, 2010, and Aldrich opted for the latter.
The full report from the investigation has been made publicly available.
The attention now swings to USA Hockey and if they will make a move regarding Bowman, as he is currently serving as the general manager for the 2022 U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team. The futures of Cheveldayoff, who is the current general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, and Quenneville, the current head coach of the Florida Panthers, also remain to be seen.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman shared in a statement that should Blunk, Bowman, MacIsaac or McDonough wish to re-enter the league, it will require a meeting with the commissioner in advance of them accepting a job offer.