Well this is not something I saw coming, but I suppose it’s a nice enough gesture(?), even if it barely scratches the surface of repentance: Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz has asked the Hall of Fame to remove Brad Aldrich’s name from the Stanley Cup in a letter to Hall Chairman Lanny MacDonald.
Or, more specifically, to put an X through it? Here’s the initial report and Wirtz’s letter (which has so fortuitously made it’s way to the public):
Here is a copy of the letter Rocky Wirtz sent to the Hall of Fame.
"Names have been engraved and then for years. Taking a stand on the unforgivable behavior of Aldrich should include erasing his name from the Cup." pic.twitter.com/cpTtvaUmun
— Emily Kaplan (@emilymkaplan) October 29, 2021
In the letter, Wirtz establishes the importance of having your name on the trophy and the significance of having it removed. And while he concedes that the “behavior of our front office staff who were alerted to this incident was inexplicable and wrong,” the behavior of Brad Aldrich, then the video coach, was “unforgivable.”
I am humbly requesting that the Hockey Hall of Fame consider “x-ing” out his name on the Stanley Cup. While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong.
Note: Apparently, this move has some precedent in NHL History (the father of the owner of the Oilers had his name removed from the 1983-1984 cup).
So how do I feel about this? I guess mostly agnostic.
If I felt like this was coming from anywhere other than publicity and damage control I might feel differently, but I hardly think not having his name on the Stanley Cup is Aldrich’s biggest concern right now. And for a moment, when I first saw the letter, I was expecting them to ask for more than just HIS name to be removed. Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac, Joel Quenneville all lost their jobs from this incident, and it all happened on the Wirtz’s watch, but apparently the line is drawn at the trophy? It just feels like they’re separating themselves from the blame.
And while they’re maybe some legal reasons, I also don’t love how everything is characterized in the letter. Wirtz calls the alleged sexual abuse “a sexual encounter with a player” and even claims it “led to his removal from the Blackhawks organization” which conveniently leaves out the part where Quenneville evaluated him positively after he resigned which allowed him to get employment elsewhere and eventually abuse a 16-year-old minor.
Is X-ing out his name the right thing to do? Yes. Sure. But you’re not getting any points for it.