NHL fines Blackhawks $2M in response to sexual misconduct investigation

Disclaimer: This video features descriptions of sexual assault that some may find troubling. Viewer discretion is advised. Rocky and Danny Wirtz, and Reid Schar address the findings of the Chicago Blackhawks' sexual misconduct investigation.

The NHL has fined the Chicago Blackhawks $2 million “for the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters related to former video coach Brad Aldrich’s employment with the Club and ultimate departure in 2010.”

The fine was announced after an independent investigative report was made public, detailing an incident of sexual assault by Aldrich against two former players in 2010 and the club’s response to the incident.

The full report can be read here. [Content warning: The report contains graphic descriptions that some may find upsetting or offensive.]

According to a statement, the NHL and Blackhawks agreed to direct $1 million of the fine money “to fund local organizations in and around the Chicago community that provide counselling and training for, and support and assistance to, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse.”

“We acknowledge that the Blackhawks have taken responsibility and ownership for what transpired, and have already implemented new preventative measures, as well as committed to additional changes that may be deemed appropriate as part of its responsive plan of action to the investigation and Report,” commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “Having said that, today’s fine represents a direct and necessary response to the failure of the Club to follow-up and address the 2010 incident in a timely and appropriate manner. And, this response should send a clear message to all NHL Clubs and all NHL personnel that inappropriate acts must be addressed in a timely fashion. In that regard, we also reiterate that the League has implemented a confidential and anonymous Hot Line, which is available at any time to all NHL personnel.”

The investigation included interviews with 139 people from past and current players to executives, coaches and other team employees. Investigators also collected over 100 gigabytes of electronic records and 49 boxes of hard copy records.

The report determined that on May 23, 2010, a meeting was held to discuss allegations of sexual assault made by a player, known in the report as John Doe, against Aldrich. The meeting featured team executives John McDonough, Jay Blunk and Al MacIsaac, general manager Stan Bowman, then-head coach Joel Quenneville, and then-assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff in attendance and was convened to determine how the organization would proceed.

However, no action was taken until June 14 during which time the Blackhawks completed their quest for the Stanley Cup. In the off-season, Aldrich was given a choice by the Blackhawks to either resign or undergo an investigation. He chose to resign and no investigation occurred.

After the findings of the investigation were made public, Bowman and MacIsaac resigned from their roles with the Blackhawks. In his statement, Bettman indicated that Bowman, MacIsaac, Blunk and McDonough — four individuals involved who are currently not employed within the NHL — would need to meet with the commissioner before “accepting any NHL Club-related position in order to determine the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place.”

Bettman also said that he plans to schedule meetings “in the near future” with Quenneville, now head coach of the Florida Panthers, and Cheveldayoff, now general manager of the Winnipeg Jets, to discuss their roles in the incident. The commissioner said he would “reserve judgement” on both Quenneville and Cheveldayoff’s status within the league until after those meetings.

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