How these allegations and lawsuits against the Chicago Blackhawks do not end in massive firings within the organization or extensive penalties against the team would be beyond my comprehension. This is an ongoing story that will not and should not go away quietly for the Blackhawks, the NHL, or the culture of the sport.
In a new report from TSN’s Rick Westhead, a former Blackhawks marketing official says that the alleged incident involving two former players and former video coach Brad Aldrich was “an open secret” within the organization.
You can read the full report, if you are inclined, in the link above. There is a lot to unpack.
From Westhead’s Report:
The official said he was told by Blackhawks assistant trainer Jeff Thomas during the summer of 2010 that then-team video coach Brad Aldrich had allegedly sexually assaulted two players. The official asked for anonymity because he still works in the pro hockey industry and fears repercussions from the National Hockey League.
“Brad would routinely befriend young interns and invite them to his apartment in Chicago to watch March Madness basketball and other sports,” the marketing official said. “I was told to steer clear of him because he had tried something at his apartment on a few players. This was not something that only a few people knew about. The entire training staff, a lot of people knew…This was an open secret.”
To get caught up on everything surrounding these allegations against the Blackhawks and Aldrich, you can read through these reports, listed in order of their developments:
• Former Blackhawks Player Suing Team Over 2010 Allegations of Harassment and Sexual Assault
• Second Lawsuit Alleges Blackhawks Misconduct in Relation to Former Coach
• Blackhawks Management Allegedly Refused To File Sexual Assault Report in 2010
• More Details Emerge Surrounding Blackhawks’ Alleged Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse
Previously, it has been reported that the Blackhawks team skills coach at the time, Paul Vincent, had been alerted to the incident by the former players after it happened in 2010. Vincent reportedly then had a meeting with top team front office members Stan Bowman, John McDonough, Al MacIsaac, and team physiologist James Gary, who also was allegedly told about the incident by the players at the time, but did not report it.
Nothing came of the meeting after Vincent had requested the team report the allegations to the Chicago Police.
More from Westhead’s Report:
Vincent said he is willing to testify on behalf of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the Blackhawks.
“I feel a weight has been lifted off of me,” Vincent said in an interview on Monday with TSN. “I will stand up in court and say what happened. I know what the team did to cover this up and coming forward was the right thing to do.”
Vincent says he was called into a meeting with team president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, vice-president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, and Gary. Vincent said that he asked the team to report the alleged abuse to Chicago police. That request was refused, Vincent said.
Following the meeting, Vincent said he told assistant coaches John Torchetti and Mike Haviland about his request to go to police and about the team’s response. Neither Torchetti nor Haviland could be reached for comment. Neither coach is still with the franchise.
Further in Westhead’s report, Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin, who was the Blackhawks’ director of player personnel in 2009-10, was not involved in the reported meeting and had no knowledge of the complaints made by the former players at the time, according to Canadiens VP of Public Affairs Paul Wilson.
According to the report, it is unknown if Kevin Cheveldayoff or Joel Quenneville knew about the meeting or the incidents involving the players and Aldrich. Cheveldayoff, who was the Blackhawks assistant general manager at the time, is now the Winnipeg Jets general manager. A Jets spokesman declined to comment and referred questions to the Blackhawks. Quenneville, as you’ll remember was the Blackhawks’ head coach at the time, is now the head coach of the Florida Panthers. A Panthers spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. The Blackhawks, as well as the NHL have not responded to multiple requests for comment, all this according to Westhead.
For now at least, Aldrich’s name remains on the Stanley Cup.
The Hockey Hall of Fame told me questions about striking someone’s name from the Cup should go to the NHL, which, as I have reported, is not responding to questions about Aldrich. pic.twitter.com/LidmH6THe4
— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) June 23, 2021
The original investigation into these lawsuits and allegations against the Blackhawks were reported by Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold of WBEZ in Chicago, and followed-up extensively by Rick Westhead of TSN in Canada. Major credit to them on keeping this story alive and in the forefront of the news surrounding the Blackhawks during this offseason. It would be easy for this to go away quietly while the team prepares for everything going on this summer with the Seattle Expansion Draft, the NHL Draft, and free agency opening up all in July. But due to their efforts and reporting, the victims of the alleged actions of Aldrich and the inactions of the Blackhawks organization will, hopefully, find the justice they deserve.
If this latest round of allegations are true, and these disgusting incidents were this well-known within the organization, people who knew and did nothing need to face consequences and repercussions for their hand in everything.