- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
Chicago Blackhawks president of hockey operations Stan Bowman has resigned after investigators released their findings on how the team handled sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Senior director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac is also out, meaning there are no Blackhawks executives involved with the 2010 team remaining with the organization.
The league also said it was fining the team $2 million for the “organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters related to former video coach Brad Aldrich’s employment with the Club and ultimate departure in 2010.”
Half of the fine will be set aside for local organizations that support survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse.
According to a lawsuit filed in May 2021 by an unidentified former Blackhawks player, “John Doe,” Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run.
In June, the Blackhawks commissioned an independent law firm, Jenner & Block, to conduct a full investigation. That investigation was led by Reid Schar, a former assistant U.S. attorney, and the results were handed over to the Blackhawks organization on Monday.
The findings were released publicly on Tuesday. After a news conference, the team released a statement to fans.
“It is clear the organization and its executives at that time did not live up to our own standards or values in handling these disturbing incidents,” it said, in part. “We deeply regret the harm caused to John Doe and the other individuals who were affected and the failure to promptly respond. As an organization, we extend our profound apologies to the individuals who suffered from these experiences. We must — and will — do better.”
Schar said on Tuesday that investigators interviewed 139 people, including Aldrich and John Doe. Both men had their attorneys present. Schar confirmed that “John Doe” was a Black Ace — a minor league player called up to the NHL during the playoffs.
According to the findings, on May 8 or 9 in 2010, John Doe had a sexual encounter with Aldrich. Both men confirmed to investigators that an encounter happened; John Doe said it was not consensual, while Aldrich said it was consensual.
According to Schar, days later MacIsaac was told there might have been a sexual encounter between the coach and player, and separately that Aldrich might have sent an explicit text message to another player.
Schar said that on May 23, John McDonough, MacIsaac, Bowman, Jay Blunk, Kevin Cheveldayoff, Joel Quenneville and James Gary met to discuss what happened with John Doe.
Schar said that “accounts of that meeting vary significantly,” but ultimately Aldrich remained with the team through the Stanley Cup celebrations. Aldrich received a Stanley Cup ring and a day with the Stanley Cup.
According to the investigation, the Blackhawks’ director of human resource met with Aldrich on June 16 and gave him the option to undergo an investigation or resign. Aldrich chose to resign, and no investigation was conducted.
The current investigation concluded that Aldrich made a sexual advance to a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern after the organization was made aware of the initial allegations.
On Tuesday, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz said he and son Danny — the team’s CEO — did not know about the allegations until the lawsuits were filed.
“The report is both disturbing and difficult to read,” Danny Wirtz said. “It speaks for itself.”
In a recent court filing, obtained by the Chicago Sun Times, John Doe says he suffered anxiety, depression, severe sleep and anger problems, sexual dysfunction and marital problems resulting in divorce as a result of the assault.
One member of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team told ESPN in June that he felt the NHL was “trying to sweep the situation under the rug.”
There were some rumors that “Aldrich tried to do something with players,” the player told ESPN, but there was never any communication about what happened. The Blackhawks never announced to the players that Aldrich had departed the organization, let alone explaining why.
“It’s scary to think people could turn their head and let this happen,” the player said.
After the news conference Tuesday, that same player told ESPN in a text message: “I’m glad justice has been served in some way. I’m sorry it took this long….and caused so much pain….but it’s the right outcome.”
Bowman released a statement, saying he did not want to become a distraction as the team focuses on the future. He explained his role in the events of 2010.
“Eleven years ago, while serving in my first year as general manager, I was made aware of potential inappropriate behavior by a then-video coach involving a player,” he said. “I promptly reported the matter to the then-President and CEO who committed to handling the matter. I learned this year that the inappropriate behavior involved a serious allegation of sexual assault. I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter promptly, I regret assuming he would do so.
“I am confident that this organization and the Wirtz family will continue to do what it takes to win championships, with integrity and with the goal of doing what is right.”
After leaving the Blackhawks, Aldrich was convicted in 2013 in Michigan of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a high school student. He was sentenced in 2014 to nine months in prison and five years of probation, which ended in 2019. He is on Michigan’s registry of sex offenders.
Bowman, son of hockey Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman, is credited with being the architect of Chicago’s three Stanley Cup titles in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He has had various jobs with the team since 2001 and was elevated to general manager in 2009. He was promoted to president of hockey operations in 2020 while maintaining his general manager duties.
The Blackhawks said that Kyle Davidson has taken over as interim general manager. He has served as an assistant general manager.
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