Blackhawks scandal not over as many questions remain unanswered

Elliotte Friedman joins Hockey Central to discuss the ramifications of the Chicago Blackhawks concluding their investigation into the sexual assault allegations made by two former players against a former assistant coach.

It’s not over yet. There are a lot of questions that need answers.

First because it’s the most time-sensitive: shouldn’t everyone involved get on a call and agree it’s a good idea to give Joel Quenneville the night off? The coach said this morning he will meet with commissioner Gary Bettman Thursday in the aftermath of the painful Chicago investigation released Tuesday.

The Boston Globe’s Matt Porter reported that Quenneville was asked if he stood by the statement he released in July — that he first learned of the Chicago allegations last summer? Quenneville answered yes, but wouldn’t comment further.

That is in direct disagreement with the investigation, which stated he was worried about it becoming a distraction prior to the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, and wrote a positive performance evaluation for Brad Aldrich after the victory.

Undoubtedly, Quenneville feels coaching is his job and he will do it until he’s told he can’t. Fine, but now that there is a completed investigation — with the Blackhawks accepting its results — the gravity of the outcome demands sensitivity.

If there’s something Thursday that explains the discrepancy, by all means let’s hear it. But let’s hear that first.

As this is written Wednesday morning, the commissioner’s interview with Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is yet to be scheduled. Cheveldayoff’s statement included, “I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks. After confirming that I had no prior knowledge of anything, I had no further involvement.”

It’s obvious a lawyer wrote it, because — by a purely legal definition — it’s accurate. But, learning yesterday that Cheveldayoff was included in the meeting where allegations were first discussed among senior management was jarring, based on that statement. It feels misleading and I can understand why people are upset by it.

Also:

Are punishments severe enough to make sure no future individual is harmed by a “failure to report?” From pages 68-69 of the investigation: “What is clear is that, after being informed of Aldrich’s alleged sexual harassment and misconduct with a player, no action was taken for three weeks…The failure to promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter and the decision to take no action from May 23 to June 14 had consequences. 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.”

Those 107 pages are a hard, painful read. Some information was expected. Other bits were not. That one was new, and it stung. Inactivity led to assault, and it’s unacceptable. Fruit of an extremely poisonous tree.

The $2M fine isn’t enough. The individual consequences? Maybe. Two who attended the original high-level meeting — CEO John McDonough and Executive Vice-President Jay Blunk — were already out. GM Stan Bowman and Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac were removed Tuesday. Commissioner Gary Bettman’s statement indicated all will have to meet with him before any potential return to the NHL. We will see what happens in Florida and Winnipeg.

Also:

• While the report disputes that all of the players knew during the chase for the 2010 Stanley Cup, there is an accusation John Doe was disgracefully taunted by at least one then-Blackhawk in the aftermath. We haven’t heard the last of this. Someone compared this to an iceberg, that most of it is underwater and we don’t see everything yet.

• Will any names come off the Stanley Cup?

• Will the Blackhawks try to re-collect any of McDonough’s severance?

• How do the team’s fans react? On-ice, it’s been ugly. Now, there’s off-ice pain. Next home game is Wednesday night versus Toronto.

• It’s a very small part of the report, but, on some level, NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr was notified about what happened. Where does that part of the story go?

• What are the unexpected ramifications and aftershocks?

The report is written, placed where everyone can see it. But the story is far from finished.

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