A law firm working for the Chicago Blackhawks completed an independent review of a former player's 2010 sexual-misconduct allegations against then-video coach Brad Aldrich as well as the team's handling of his complaint at the time, The Chicago Tribune reported.
Blackhawks owner and Chairman Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz and Reid Schar, partner at Jenner & Block, were present at an Oct. 26 press conferenceand announced that Stan Bowman, the general manager and president of hockey operations, has "stepped aside." In addition, the NHL announced it had fined the Blackhawks $2 million for its "inadequate procedures and mishandling."
In an open letter that Windy City Times received, the team wrote, "The Blackhawks are more than just a hockey team. We are a community that is built upon the trust and support of our fans, players, employees, and partners.
"That trust was shaken when disturbing allegations recently came to light about our handling of sexual misconduct that occurred eleven years ago. When we learned of these detailed allegations as part of recent public reports, our ownership initiated an independent investigation led by the law firm Jenner & Block to determine what occurred and how our organization responded.
"Jenner & Block has delivered their findings to the organization and the report can be read at jenner.com/Chicago_Blackhawks_Investigation_Report. [Content warning: The report contains graphic descriptions that some may find upsetting or offensive.] The report details very troubling events that occurred in 2010 and outlines the Blackhawks' knowledge and treatment of those events at that time.
"It is clear the organization and its executives at that time did not live up to our own standards or values in handling these disturbing incidents. 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. We mustand willdo better.
"What we do off the ice is equally as important as anything we do on it. Our ownership and leadership teams are committed to ensuring that the Blackhawks adhere to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards. We will not tolerate behavior that is antithetical to our values from any member of the organization, nor will we accept the type of inaction that allows such issues to continue unchecked."
In a separate letter, Bowman said, "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."
The anonymous former player, using the pseudonym "John Doe," has an ongoing lawsuit against the team alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Aldrich pled guilty in 2013 to misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct with a former Houghton (Michigan) High School hockey player who later also sued the Hawks, The Tribune noted.
The Hawks have filed motions to dismiss both cases.