The Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block to conduct what they called an independent review in response to two lawsuits filed against the franchise: one alleging sexual assault by then assistant coach Brad Aldrich during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010 and another filed by a former student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan.
Team CEO Danny Wirtz called the report “both disturbing and difficult to read,” and the NHL fined the team $2 million for mishandling the accusations.
Bowman said he was stepping aside because he didn’t want to be a distraction for the team.
“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 in a statement released by the team. “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.”
Former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who ran the investigation, said Tuesday that Bowman, former team president John McDonough, hockey operations executive Al MacIsaac, former executive vice president Jay Blunk and then-assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff met with then-coach Joel Quenneville and mental skills coach Jim Gary to discuss the allegations in May 2010.
Schar said accounts of the meeting “vary significantly.”
“What is clear is that after being informed of Aldrich’s alleged sexual harassment and misconduct with a player no action was taken for three weeks,” Schar said.
Quenneville is the head coach of the Florida Panthers and Cheveldayoff is the GM of the Canadiens. There was no immediate word from either team on their status.
USA Hockey did not immediately have any comment on Bowman’s status as GM for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Aldrich left the Blackhawks after the 2009-10 season.
A former player said Aldrich assaulted him, and that the team did nothing after he informed an employee. The lawsuit, filed May 7 in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges Aldrich also assaulted another unidentified Blackhawks player. The former player who sued and is seeking more than $150,000 in damages is referred in the document as “John Doe.”
The eight-page lawsuit says Aldrich, then a video coach for the Blackhawks, “turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of” the player without his consent. It says Aldrich also threatened to “physically, financially and emotionally” hurt the player if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with him.
According to TSN, two Blackhawks players told then-skills coach Paul Vincent in May 2010 of inappropriate behavior by Aldrich. Vincent said he asked Gary to follow up with the players and management.
Full statement from Stan Bowman:
“Since joining the Blackhawks in 2000, I have been extremely grateful for the opportunities presented to me and proud of our accomplishments. This organization, beginning with the Wirtz family, has been extraordinarily good to my family and to me. That is why today, after discussions with Rocky and Danny, I have decided to step aside. The team needs to focus on its future, and my continued participation would be a distraction. I think too much of this organization to let that happen.
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. 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.
I am deeply grateful to the Blackhawks for the chance to manage the team; to the players for their dedication; and to the fans for their tremendous support over the years. It has been an honor to have been part of this incredible organization, and to serve the best fans in hockey, in the greatest city in the world. I will always cherish my time with the Chicago Blackhawks. On behalf of myself and my family, thank you.”
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