NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to reporters Monday afternoon, six days after a detailed 107-page report on the sexual assault allegations against former Blackhawks video coach Brad was released. Aldrich, and the team’s subsequent cover-up.
The report came after a lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks in May 2021 by “John Doe.” The filing alleges that the Blackhawks ignored and covered up their 2010 disclosure against Aldrich. Seven members of the Blackhawks management group were part of a May 23, 2010 meeting that discussed the allegations. The allegations were not reported to human resources until June 14, 2010, just 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 no longer with the team. Last Wednesday, Kyle Beach introduced himself as the former Blackhawks player who filed a legal action against the Blackhawks in May. The next day, Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who was Chicago’s coach in 2010 when the events occurred, resigned.
Bettman, along with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, addressed a number of questions that remain to be resolved.
When did the NHL find out?
According to Daly, the NHL received a notice in late December 2020 from lawyers for the Blackhawks team about “potential or threatened civil litigation, which they claimed to have investigated and which they said was without merit.”
The NHL was not informed 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 had 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 complete.
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Why was Joel Quenneville allowed to practice Wednesday night against the Bruins?
Despite the report coming to light Tuesday afternoon and Beach’s interview about an hour before the start of the game, in which he insisted that Quenneville knew of Beach’s assault allegation, the now-coach of The Panthers were allowed to be behind the bench Wednesday night.
“I met with Joel Quenneville on Thursday afternoon to discuss his views on the events of 11 years ago and I wanted to make sure that he felt he had a fair opportunity to tell me his account of what had happened,” Bettman said in his comments on opening. “Ultimately, he decided it was best to resign, which, according to my statement Thursday night, is a decision with which I agree.
“Should I have been a coach Wednesday night? I suppose people can object to that point. And I get it, but I had already coached 867 games since 2010, and I wanted to make sure that no one, including Coach Quenneville, could say that I I had prejudged it. Again, people may disagree with this, but I was focused on the long term, not on that game. “
When asked later at the press conference about Quenneville’s training, Bettman said, “I didn’t want him to feel like he was being prejudiced in any way. So actually, although it may not have been the best looking optically. , I was more concerned with the substance than with the look. “
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Why was Kevin Cheveldayoff not disciplined?
Bettman met with the now 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’ inaction.
“There seems to be some confusion as to whether, despite his lack of power, position or seniority, he should have felt free to speak … due to his limited authority and circumstance, he left the [May 23, 2010] meeting believing that this matter was going to be investigated by their bosses and when Aldrich left the team, he thought that was what had happened, “Bettman read during his opening remarks.” Kevin was also not in a position to be informed of or to access additional information about what was happening after the May 23 meeting and did not have such information. “
According to Bettman, the only one who put Cheveldayoff at that May 23 meeting discussing Beach’s allegations against Aldrich among top members of the Blackhawks’ front office was Cheveldayoff.
“Kevin was a minor player in this,” Bettman said, adding that at one point during the nearly hour-long press conference that Cheveldayoff was in charge of the salary cap and scouting in 2010. “Everyone else either forgot or did not. They recognized him. He was there. He had been with the Blackhawks for nine months. He was an assistant general manager with fairly limited responsibilities. This was not something he not only had no responsibility for, that was based on what was available to him in his relatively minor position at the time, had no reason to believe anything other than the right thing was going on. “
Bettman suggested that Cheveldayoff was under the assumption that Bowman and then-team president John McDonough were looking after him. McDonough waited until three weeks after that meeting on May 23 and, as noted, after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, to report the allegations to human resources. Aldrich chose to resign rather than submit to an investigation. He then went on to work with USA Hockey, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Miami (OH) and Houghton High School (Michigan), where he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree involving a student.
It should be noted that Chevelydayoff was scheduled to speak to the media on Monday; However the the press conference was postponed because President Mark Chipman was unable to attend due to a medical problem.
What is the NHL’s response going forward?
“I think people, like us, will feel – unhappy is not the right word – they will feel discouraged, disappointed, horrified by what happened,” Bettman said when asked what he would say to hockey fans who are struggling. . It’s time to cheer on your team and the sport right now. “But please understand that we have tried to be as transparent as possible, that disciplinary measures have been taken to address the things that were done wrong. That we have had, even before this, procedures and training and counseling in place to ensure that the hockey culture does not encourage, and in fact prohibit, this type of activity.
“We are going to have to be judged as we move forward.”
So what is the NHL planning to do? According to Bettman, “the NHL has made considerable progress from where it was a decade ago” when the events occurred, citing training, 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 sexual misconduct policy. He responded that the league does, but the NHL’s approach to it is on a case-by-case basis and on a “sliding scale.”
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Moving forward, the NHL, according to Bettman, will implement the following two steps:
- Seek the help of outside professionals to evaluate the league’s efforts and make sure they are not only adequate but more effective.
- Create a network of organizations that help victims of abuse at all levels of hockey.
Currently, the NHL has an established hotline to call, even anonymously, to report inappropriate activity.
“If this horrible situation is to serve any constructive purpose, it is to show that this will not be tolerated,” Bettman said regarding the non-complaint. “If you have a problem in your organization, you better solve it. And if you are in a position of authority, you should not ignore it, because there will be a consequence.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.