NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to reporters Monday afternoon, six days after the release of a detailed 107-page report regarding allegations of sexual assault against former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich and the subsequent concealment from the team.
The report came in the wake of a lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks in May 2021 by “John Doe.” The case alleges that the Blackhawks ignored and covered up his disclosure against Aldrich from 2010. Seven members of the Blackhawks management group attended a meeting on May 23, 2010 which discussed the allegations. The allegations were not reported to human resources until June 14, 2010, days after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Aldrich was allowed to resign.
Following the findings of the Jenner and Block report, Stan Bowman “stepped down” as Blackhawks general manager and senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac is also no longer on the team. Last Wednesday, Kyle Beach introduced himself as the former Blackhawks player who filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks in May. The next day, Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who coached Chicago in 2010 when the events unfolded, resigned.
Bettman, alongside Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, addressed a number of remaining issues.
When did the NHL know?
According to Daly, the NHL was warned in late December 2020 by counsel for the Blackhawks team of a “potential or threatened civil litigation, which they claimed to have considered and to which they said there was no no basis ”.
The NHL was not made aware of the specific allegations until after the civil litigation was filed in May 2021 by “John Doe” (revealed to be Beach) and the amended complaint – which contained more details – was filed in July. According to Bettman, the NHL did not know what was in the report until last Monday and the independent investigation was concluded.
MORE: Full Details, Blackhawks Sexual Assault Scandal Timeline
Why was Joel Quenneville cleared to coach Wednesday night against the Bruins?
Despite the report released Tuesday afternoon and Beach’s interview about an hour before the start of the game where he was adamant that Quenneville was aware of Beach’s assault allegation, the Panthers coach has was allowed to be behind the bench on Wednesday night.
“I met Joel Quenneville Thursday afternoon to discuss his take on the events of 11 years ago and wanted to make sure he felt he had a good opportunity to tell me his story. of what had happened, ”Bettman said in his opening remarks. “In the end, he decided he was better off resigning, which you know from my statement Thursday night is a decision I agree with.
“Should he have coached on Wednesday night? I guess people can quibble about that. And I understand that, but he had already coached 867 games since 2010, and I wanted to make sure no one – including coach Quenneville – couldn’t say I had prejudged it. Again, people may not agree on this, but I was focused on the long term, not on this one game. “
Asked later at Quenneville’s training press conference, Bettman said, “I didn’t want him to feel like he was prejudiced in any way. So, really, even though it might not be the best look, I was more concerned with the substance than the look.
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Why was Kevin Cheveldayoff not sanctioned?
Bettman met with the current Jets general manager and former Blackhawks assistant general manager on Friday and chose not to discipline him for his role, explaining that Cheveldayoff was not responsible for the Blackhawks’ inactions.
“There seems to be some confusion as to whether, despite his lack of power, position or seniority, he should have felt free to speak up … due to his limited authority and the circumstances , he left the [May 23, 2010] thinking this matter was going to be investigated by his bosses and when Aldrich broke up with the team he thought that was what had happened, ”Bettman read in his remarks opening. “Kevin was also not in a position to be made aware. or to access additional information about what happened after the May 23 meeting and he had no such information. “
According to Bettman, the only one who actually included Cheveldayoff in that May 23 meeting that discussed Beach’s allegations against Aldrich among senior members of the Blackhawks front office was Cheveldayoff.
“Kevin was such a minor player in this area,” Bettman said, adding at one point during the nearly hour-long press conference, Cheveldayoff was responsible for the salary cap and spotting in 2010. “Everyone world forgot or didn’t recognize that he was there. He had been with the Blackhawks for nine months. He was assistant general manager with fairly limited responsibilities. It was not something for which he not only had no responsibility – this depending on what was available to him in his minor, relatively, position at the time – he had no reason to believe that anything other than the right things was going on. “
Bettman suggested that Cheveldayoff assumed he was supported by Bowman and then team president John McDonough. McDonough waited up to three weeks after that May 23 reunion – and, as noted, after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup – to report the allegations to human resources. Aldrich chose to resign instead of submitting to an investigation. He then worked with USA Hockey, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Miami (OH) and Houghton High School (Michigan) where he was convicted of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct involving a student.
It should be noted that Chevelydayoff was scheduled to address the media on Monday; However, the the press conference has been postponed due to President Mark Chipman’s inability to attend due to a medical issue.
What is the NHL’s response going forward?
“I think people, like us, are going to feel – miserable is not the right word – to feel discouraged, disappointed, horrified at what happened,” Bettman said when asked what happened. ‘he would say to hockey fans who are having difficulty “But understand that we have tried to be as transparent as possible, that measures have been taken, disciplinary, to remedy the mistakes made. That we had, even before that, procedures, training and advice in place to ensure that the hockey culture does not encourage, and even prohibit, this type of activity.
“We will have to be judged as we go along.”
So what does the NHL plan to do? According to Bettman, “the NHL has made tremendous progress over what it was a decade ago” when events happened, citing roster, committees, written policies, and so on. Some would say that “progress” is up for debate among members of the hockey community. . Bettman was asked directly why the NHL does not have a policy on sexual misconduct. He replied that the league does, but the NHL responds to it on a case-by-case basis and with a “sliding scale.”
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Going forward, the NHL will, according to Bettman, implement the following two steps:
- Enlist the help of outside professionals to evaluate the league’s efforts to ensure that they are not only adequate but also effective.
- Create a network of organizations that come to the aid of victims of abuse for all levels of hockey.
Currently, the NHL has established a hotline to call, even anonymously, to report inappropriate activity.
“If this horrible situation is to serve any constructive purpose, it is to demonstrate that it will not be tolerated,” Bettman said of the non-whistleblowing. “If you have a problem in your organization, you had better deal with it. And if you are in a position of authority, you should not neglect it, because there will be a consequence to it.”