'Animalism': Blackhawks scandal raises culture questions

They did not do anything for three weeks in 2010. It took three weeks for the Chicago Blackhawks leadership to respond to allegations that an assistant coach had sexually assaulted a player.

Musa Can Durmaz
Musa Can Durmaz
28 October 2021 Thursday 14:58
138 Reads
'Animalism': Blackhawks scandal raises culture questions

Three weeks. Three weeks. More than a decade later, this franchise was rocked and more questions were raised about its culture.

The report, which was 107 pages long, featured interviews with 139 witnesses and 49 boxes hard-copy records. It also included interviews with 49 people.

In response to two lawsuits the team commissioned an independent review. The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2,000,000 for their "inadequate internal procedures" and "insufficient and late response."

Joel Quenneville, Florida coach, will meet with Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner on Thursday. Kevin Cheveldayoff, Winnipeg general manager is also scheduled to speak to the commissioner Monday. Both were present with the Blackhawks at the time the allegations by Kyle Beach were made.

According to the report Donald Fehr was contacted twice by investigators about allegations related to the assistant coach. One of these contacts was made by a Beach confidant. Fehr admitted to investigators that he didn't remember either conversation but did not deny they had taken place.

Fehr released a statement Wednesday night saying that Kyle Beach had suffered a terrible experience and showed true courage by sharing his story. "It is clear that the system did not support him during his time of greatest need. We are part of that system."

"Mr. Beach said that he had told someone at NHLPA about what happened several months later in a media interview. He refers to one of the NHL/NHLPA program doctors. Although the program is confidential between the players and the doctors it should have led to further action from our side due to the serious nature of the incident. It was a grave failure that it didn't. "I am deeply sorry and will make changes to prevent it from happening again."

TSN spoke with Beach on Wednesday, a 2008 draft pick who was playing in Germany professionally. He said he felt "alone" and "dark" during the days that followed the alleged assault. He stated that he is just now starting to heal.

Beach, 31 years old, was referred to in the lawsuit against the Blackhawks and John Doe. Unless they make their claims publicly, the AP doesn't usually identify victims of sexual assault.

The Blackhawks gave Beach a commendation in a statement that was attributed to them. They also reiterated their "deepest apologies for what he had gone through" and the inability to respond promptly in 2010.

Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz met with current players on Wednesday. This was just a day after Rocky Wirtz's graphic report was published. It led to Al MacIsaac and Stan Bowman, President of Hockey Operations, being fired.

Coach Jeremy Colliton stated, "I think the most important message was that we, like the organization, are here for you." "The family is behind me. We have the support of the organization and will do our best to make this a success.

Rocky Wirtz stated Tuesday that he and Danny first became aware of the allegations before Beach filed a lawsuit in May alleging sexual assault by Brad Aldrich, then-assistant coach. A second lawsuit is also being filed by Aldrich's former student.

According to the Blackhawks, their lawyers reached out to Susan Loggans (an attorney representing John Doe, the former student in the second suit) on Tuesday regarding possible settlements. An initial call was scheduled for next week.

According to the report, the confrontation between Beach (then a minor leaguer of 20 years who was called up by the Blackhawks in case they needed assistance in the playoffs) and Aldrich (then 27), took place on May 8, or 9, 2010.

Beach claimed that Aldrich threatened Beach with a souvenir baseball bat, before forcing him to perform oral sex and masturbating on his back. Beach also described these allegations in his lawsuit.

Aldrich said that the encounter was consensual. Aldrich replied Wednesday when asked about the report of the law firm: "I have no to say."

Two weeks later, just after Chicago had advanced to the Stanley Cup Final on May 23, 2010, Bowman, MacIsaac and team president John McDonough met with Jay Blunk, executive vice president Jay Blunk, and assistant general manager Cheveldayoff to discuss the allegations.

Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor, claimed that accounts of the meeting "variate significantly". However, there was no evidence that anything about the accusations was done before McDonough reached out to the director of human resources of the team on June 14. This delay, Schar claims, violated the team’s policy against sexual harassment.

Aldrich traveled with the team for three weeks during those three weeks. Schar stated that Aldrich made an unwelcome sexual advance toward a 22 year-old Blackhawks intern.

Beach said to TSN that Aldrich being around him made him sick.

Beach stated, "I reported it and I was made aware by Jim Gary that it reached the top of the chain of command. And nothing happened." It was almost like he was living the same life as the day before. Every day was the same.

"And then, when they won. To see him parade around lifting the Cup at the parade at team photos, at celebrations. It made me feel like nothing."

The NHL has terminated McDonough, Blunk, and Gary. Bowman and MacIsaac have also been fired.

The report however makes it clear that winning the Cup 11 years ago was more important than taking immediate action to address the Aldrich allegations. Bowman recalls that McDonough, Quenneville, and Bowman discussed the challenges of reaching the Stanley Cup Final, and their desire to "focus on the team" and the playoffs.

Bowman's account of the incident was reminiscent both of scandals at Baylor where assault claims against footballers were mishandled and at USA Gymnastics, still reeling after its handling of Larry Nassar, a convicted serial sex abuser, and team doctor.

Loggans stated that she hopes the changes made in Chicago will be replicated across all sports.

She stated that there must be a shift from an attitude of total animalism. Let's ramp up the masculinity factor in these players, and we will do whatever it takes to win a match. "There must be context. It's no different from being concerned about concussions during football games.

It's not about winning at any cost. These are human beings. These are not gladiators, whose lives will be lost in the game.



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