The Chicago Blackhawks have released the findings of an investigation into allegations of sexual assault by Brad Aldrich in 2010 when he was employed as a video coach with the team. As a result of the investigation, general manager Stan Bowman has “stepped aside” from the organization, admitting he made a mistake in 2010. Senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIssac has also left the organization.
The Blackhawks have also been fined $2MM by the league for “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 that amount will be dedicated to fund local organizations that provide counseling and training for, and support and assistance to, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse.
Bowman, 48, joined the Blackhawks in 2005 as director of hockey operations and was named general manager in 2009. He was given the title of president of hockey operations in 2020 after previously serving as senior vice president. He retained the title of general manager and conducted a drastic overhaul to the roster over the last few months, bringing in players like Marc-Andre Fleury, Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Caleb Jones, Tyler Johnson, and Adam Gaudette. That roster will now be inherited by Kyle Davidson, who will be serving as interim general manager as the club searches for a new front office leader.
Not only was Bowman in charge of the Blackhawks, but he also served as general manager for the U.S. National Team that is set to take part in the 2022 Olympics. Bowman has stepped down from that position as well. No replacement has been named.
At the time of the incident, in which Aldrich is alleged to have sexually assaulted two players during the 2010 playoffs, a meeting was reportedly held between skills coach Paul Vincent, then team president John McDonough, Bowman, MacIsaac, and sports psychologist James Gary, with Vincent reporting the incident and asking management to take it to the Chicago police. According to Vincent, who spoke with Rick Westhead of TSN, they refused.
In the press conference today, former assistant US attorney Reid Schar, who conducted the investigation, revealed that there was a meeting between MacIsaac, Bowman, McDonough, Gary then assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, then executive vice president Jay Blunk, and then head coach Joel Quenneville where the allegations were discussed, though accounts of the meeting “vary significantly.” After being informed of the incident, no action was taken for three weeks. The investigation also found that Blackhawks ownership was not aware of the allegations until this year. Cheveldayoff and Quenneville have previously denied knowing about the allegations.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will meet with Cheveldayoff, currently the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, and Quenneville, head coach of the Florida Panthers, to “discuss their roles in the relevant events.” It is not clear if they will receive additional punishment from the league. He also explains that if the four executives linked to the decision–Bowman, McDonough, Blunk and MacIsaac–wish to re-enter the league in some capacity, they will need to meet with Bettman before accepting any NHL-related position to determine “the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place.”
McDonough informed the team’s human resources director after the 2010 playoffs, and Aldrich was given the option to undergo an investigation or resign. He resigned that June. McDonough, who had been with the team since 2007, was fired in 2020. No executive involved in the 2010 incident will remain with the team.
139 witnesses were interviewed during the investigation, including the player who initially filed a lawsuit against the team earlier this year and some current Blackhawks players. The full report can be read here.