Scathing Report Reveals NHL’s Blackhawks Ignored Sexual Assault Complaints

An independent investigation concluded that Blackhawks management ignored a player's sexual assault complaint against a coach for several weeks, allowing the coach to partake in Stanley Cup celebrations.
Mack Lamoureux
Toronto, CA
October 26, 2021, 9:38pm
The NHL has fined the Chicago Blackhawks $2 million and the team’s general manager and senior vice president of operations have stepped aside after an independent investigators released a report outlining how management overlooked a sexual assault complai
Stan Bowman, Chicago Blackhawks senior vice president and general manager, speaking to media in 2018. (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

The NHL has fined the Chicago Blackhawks $2 million and the team’s general manager and senior vice president of operations have stepped aside after independent investigators released a report outlining how management overlooked a sexual assault complaint against a coach.

At a Tuesday press conference, the investigators said they interviewed more than 139 witnesses looking into how the team handled the complaint from a player against video coach Bradley Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

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“The report is both disturbing and difficult to read. It speaks for itself,” Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz said at the press conference

You can read the full 107 page report here. 

While the report doesn’t go into details of the allegations, a lawsuit against the team made by the former player alleges that in May 2010, while the player was at Aldrich’s apartment for coaching advice, Aldrich began to masturbate, threatened the player with a bat, and told him he would not play in the NHL again if he didn’t engage in a sex act with him. The investigators said Aldrich admits the sexual activity happened but says it was consensual. 

The report found that team management was made aware of the allegations in May and held a meeting about it but decided to focus on hockey since the Blackhawks were in a playoff run. Present at the meeting were the general manager Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac (senior vice president of hockey operations), John McDonough (then president of the team), Joel Quenneville (the then coach who now coaches the Florida Panthers), and Kevin Cheveldayoff (now the general manager of the Winnipeg Jets). The Blackhawks ended up winning the Stanley Cup and allowed Aldrich to take part in the celebration. It wasn’t until three weeks later that management told human resources about the allegation.

“The failure to promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter and the decision to take no action from May 23 to June 14 had consequences,” the report says. “During that period, Aldrich continued to work with and travel with the team. Aldrich engaged in an unwanted sexual advance on a Blackhawks intern—physically grabbing the intern in a sexual manner. And Aldrich continued to participate in team activities and celebrations, in the presence of John Doe.” 

The team allowed Aldrich to resign with dignity after the celebration. While accepting the resignation the team paid Aldrich over $20,000 in severance and allowed him to have a day with the Stanley Cup. 

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Aldrich went on to work at the Miami University in Ohio where a recently released investigation alleged he sexually assaulted two men. He then worked as a volunteer assistant coach at a Michigan high school, where he was convicted for sexually abusing a teenage player and sentenced to nine months in prison. The teenage player is also suing the Blackhawks.

Bowman and MacIsaac stepped down on Tuesday. No other people present at the meeting are currently working with the Blackhawks. 

“We deeply regret the harm caused to John Doe and the other individuals who were affected and the failure to promptly respond. As an organization, we extend our profound apologies to the individuals who suffered from these experiences,” the team said in a statement. “We must—and will—do better.”

One former player told ESPN earlier this year he believed the team attempted to “sweep the situation under the rug.”

The investigation into the team’s management was launched in August by the Blackhawks following the two lawsuits coming to light. The NHL said they will be holding meetings with Cheveldayoff and Quenneville who remain in influential roles in the league to determine “next steps,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. 

Bowman also stepped down as the general manager of the United States Olympic team Tuesday.  

Correction: A previous version of this story said Aldrich worked at University of Miami (Florida). He worked at at Miami University (Ohio).

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