NHL chooses not to discipline Jets’ Cheveldayoff for role in Blackhawks scandal

Winnipeg Jets Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. (John Woods/CP)

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will not face any discipline for his role in the Chicago Blackhawks sexual misconduct scandal.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced his decision Friday after a meeting with Cheveldayoff earlier in the day.

“While on some level, it would be easiest to paint everyone with any association to this terrible matter with the same broad brush, I believe that fundamental fairness requires a more in-depth analysis of the role of each person,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman. “Kevin Cheveldayoff was not a member of the Blackhawks senior leadership team in 2010, and I cannot, therefore, assign to him responsibility for the Club’s actions, or inactions. He provided a full account of his degree of involvement in the matter, which was limited exclusively to his attendance at a single meeting, and I found him to be extremely forthcoming and credible in our discussion.”

Cheveldayoff released his own statement Friday afternoon.

“First and most importantly, I want to express my support of and empathy for Kyle Beach and all he has had to endure since 2010,” the statement reads. “He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story. We can all use his courage as an inspiration to do a better job of making hockey a safer space for anyone who wants to play the game.”

A report published this week after an independent investigation by Jenner & Block shed new light on sexual assault allegations levelled by two Blackhawks players against a coach during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup. Among the key findings in the report were witness testimony about a meeting on May 23, 2010 involving members of the Blackhawks leadership team — including general manager Stan Bowman, team executives John McDonough, Al MacIsaac and Jay Blunk and head coach Joel Quenneville. Cheveldayoff, who was the assistant GM with the Blackhawks at the time, was also present.

According to the Jenner & Block report, the group discussed how to handle allegations of sexual assault made by player Kyle Beach against coach Brad Aldrich. However, as the investigators discovered, no action was taken by the group until mid-June, after the Stanley Cup had been awarded and Aldrich was allowed to quietly resign without any investigation by the club.

In the aftermath of the report being published, Bowman, MacIsaac and Quenneville resigned from their posts with the Blackhawks and, in Quenneville’s case, Panthers. However, after meeting with Cheveldayoff Friday, the NHL determined that the role he played did not warrant the same fate.

“As an Assistant General Manager at the time, Cheveldayoff, who reported directly to Stan Bowman, was the lowest ranking Club official in the room, and his position included no oversight responsibilities over the Club’s coaching staff,” a statement from the NHL reads. “He was among the last to be included in the meeting; he was learning of the subject matter for the first time in the presence of his boss (then-GM Stan Bowman), his boss’ boss (then-CEO John McDonough) and the Head Coach (Joel Quenneville), who was Brad Aldrich’s direct superior; he had limited familiarity with the personnel involved; and he was essentially an observer to the discussion of possible next steps, which discussion, apparently, ended with Cheveldayoff believing that the matter was going to be investigated.

“Cheveldayoff’s role within the Blackhawks’ organization at the time not only left him without authority to make appropriate organizational decisions relating to this matter, but as importantly, he was not thereafter even in a position to have sufficient information to assess whether or not the matter was being adequately addressed by the Blackhawks. In short, Cheveldayoff was not a participant in either the formulation or execution of the Club’s response.”

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