The Chicago Blackhawks announced Tuesday that president of hockey operations Stan Bowman has stepped down from his post following the findings of an independent investigation related to allegations of sexual assault against former video coach Brad Aldrich. In addition, senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac is also leaving the organization.
Kyle Davidson will assume the role of interim general manager (which was one of Bowman’s duties) as the Blackhawks search for a permanent replacement for Bowman. The investigation found that two Blackhawks players were sexually assaulted by Aldrich in May 2010 — a season that ended with Chicago winning the Stanley Cup.
“Since joining the Blackhawks in 2000, I have been extremely grateful for the opportunities presented to me and proud of our accomplishments,” Bowman said in a statement. “This organization, beginning with the Wirtz family, has been extraordinarily good to my family and to me. That is why today, after discussions with Rocky and Danny, I have decided to step aside. The team needs to focus on its future, and my continued participation would be a distraction. I think too much of this organization to let that happen.
“Eleven years ago, while serving in my first year as general manager, I was made aware of potential inappropriate behavior by a then-video coach involving a player. I promptly reported the matter to the then-President and CEO who committed to handling the matter. I learned this year that the inappropriate behavior involved a serious allegation of sexual assault. I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter promptly, I regret assuming he would do so.”
The NHL announced that the Blackhawks organization has been fined $2 million for “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.”
Along with the league, the Blackhawks decided that $1 million of the fine will go towards a local organization in the Chicago community that provides counseling and support to survivors of sexual abuse.
Former assistant United States attorney Reid Schar, who conducted the investigation with Chicago law firm Jenner & Block over the past four months, revealed that Bowman failed to properly report the sexual assault. In addition, Schar stated that a Blackhawks player, who was referred to as John Doe, was called up to Chicago during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs to serve as a “Black Ace” — a prospect that would be available to play for the team if needed.
According to the report, Aldrich was pressuring that player to have sex with him and threatened to harm his career if he didn’t comply. Schar said that in total, 139 witnesses were interviewed as a part of the independent investigation.
The report also detailed a meeting that was held following the clinching game of the 2010 Western Conference Finals. That meeting involved then-President John McDonough, then-Senior Vice President Jay Blunk, Bowman, MacIsaac, then-Assistant General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and then-Head Coach Joel Quenneville. After discussing the sexual assault, the group decided that the primary focus should be on the Stanley Cup Finals and that the Aldrich situation would be handled “in a prompt and appropriate manner.” That never occurred.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is slated to meet with Quenneville and Cheveldayoff to discuss their roles in the events that occurred. Quenneville is the current head coach of the Panthers while Cheveldayoff is the GM of the Jets.