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The Chicago Blackhawks Will Face Fallout from the Latest Allegations, One Way Or Another

Chicago Blackhawks

Let me start by saying this, in case I haven’t been clear enough over the past month and a half since these latest allegations involving the Chicago Blackhawks have come to light: If what is being reported regarding former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich, his conduct while with the team, and the organization’s handling of the situation are all indeed true, everyone involved should be removed from the organization and/or face serious repercussions for their actions or inactions.

Plain and simple. And even if those internal repercussions never come, there will be consequences, in one form or another.

If you are not yet aware, there are multiple lawsuits currently being filed against former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich for sexual assault, abuse, and harassment during his time with the club, as well as with various hockey organizations he worked for following his time with Chicago. There are also lawsuits being filed against the Blackhawks for their handling of the allegations against Aldrich and the fallout from their alleged failure to report those allegations properly.

To get caught up on everything surrounding the claims 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
•  Aldrich’s Conduct An “Open Secret” Within Blackhawks Organization
•  Former Blackhawks Player Says “Every Guy on the Team Knew” About Allegations

Dave McKinney and Tony Arnold of WBEZ News, along with Rick Westhead of TSN, have been reporting on the incidents and allegations from the beginning of this investigation, as well as Katie Strang, Scott Powers, and Mark Lazerus of The Athletic, who have added more details recently regarding the team’s knowledge of the alleged incidents in 2010 and what sparked the terrible chain of events involving Aldrich during and after his time with the Blackhawks.

Implicated multiple times throughout these developments are current and former members of the Chicago Blackhawks front office, including Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac, John McDonough, and James Gary. While former Team President McDonough was fired in April 2020, Bowman (General Manager/President of Hockey Operations), MacIssac (Senior VP of Hockey Operations), and Gary (Team Mental Skills Coach) are all still with the organization. These four were allegedly involved in a meeting with former skills coach Paul Vincent where Vincent, having been informed of Aldrich’s sexual abuse and harassment of two players during the 2010 playoffs, asked Blackhawks management to report the incidents to the Chicago Police. No reports were made.

The NHL and the Blackhawks have been almost completely silent regarding the investigations and lawsuits being filed, save for an emailed statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly to The Athletic, stating that there is no current league investigation into the incidents or into the Blackhawks.

Why? What is holding the league back from trying to be in front of these reports, allegations, and lawsuits? The silence from both the league and the team is deafening.

This is far from the first time the Blackhawks have been under the spotlight for the wrong reasons, even just in the past 11 years.

•   Patrick Kane assaulting a taxi driver.
•   Akim Aliu enduring multiple racist incidents from Bill Peters while playing for the Rockford IceHogs.
•   Fans wearing indigenous head-dresses and face paint to games, which eventually were banned.
•   Fans making racists remarks to Devante Smith-Pelly.
•   Patrick Kane facing sexual assault accusation, albeit without charges.
•   Minor leaguer Garrett Ross involved in “Revenge Porn” lawsuit, which was eventually dropped.
•   Everything having to do with Bobby Hull, who still has his statue outside of the United Center.
•   Everything having to do with the Blackhawks logo and team name.

This isn’t a comprehensive list. It’s just some of the major incidents to happen and come to light in the last decade. Plus, let’s not forget the likelihood that there are many more stories that we’ll never hear about, or stories that live only in rumor and hearsay around the dive bars and living rooms of Chicagoland.

It is unacceptable.

Additionally, with the latest round of scandal surrounding the Chicago Blackhawks, there will be fallout for the organization resonating beyond the summer of 2021 or the 2021-22 season. It could set back the franchise well beyond the three Stanley Cups it won in the modern era of the NHL.

We are one month away from three major dates on the NHL offseason calendar: the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft (July 21), the NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), and the beginning of free agency (July 28). The Blackhawks are in the middle of getting their team back on the right track towards the top of the NHL and rebuilding for the future beyond the “One Goal” era of hockey in Chicago. There are needs to be addressed through the draft and free agency and the Blackhawks, for once, are in a financial spot to make impactful additions, rather than having to sell-off assets to remain under the salary cap. How are they going to effectively navigate this period of the offseason, and expect to keep things moving in the right direction as far as the rebuild goes, all with this cloud of darkness and uncertainty swirling?

To make it a more specific consideration: Will Stan Bowman even be here for any of it?

These allegations against the team and their former video coach loom heavy over the organization, and it’s getting worse as the days go by. It gets worse as more time passes before anything is said on the matter from the league or the team. None of this is going away quietly, even if the NHL and the Blackhawks wish it would.

If I were a prospective free agent, why would I want to step into an organization that is dealing with something this serious? Why would you think that a team potentially going through such a dramatic front office shift (not a guarantee, but you know) is going to be a contender anytime soon? Chicago was already an iffy destination for free agents because the roster is not built to be a Stanley Cup contender yet. Now? Likely even less so. Or at least even less certain.

The shine and luster of the Chicago Blackhawks, their perception of being the “Gold Standard” of the NHL, the grandeur of the Original Six franchise that became a modern-day dynasty … was it all smoke and mirrors, built on lies and coverups? So far, I have no reasons not to believe the allegations against the team and Aldrich. There have been no reasons to not believe the stories of the victims in these cases.

You can never take away the memories of what happened on the ice in 2010, 2013, and 2015. But what happened off the ice is forever part of the memory, too. Our thoughts are most present with the victims, though, and how each day that passes without any real action feels like another offense.



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.