The Chicago Blackhawks said General Manager and President of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman will no longer be part of the team after an independent review found team executives mishandled allegations that a former coach sexually assaulted two players during Bowman’s first year as GM in 2010.
Team CEO Danny Wirtz made the announcement today during a virtual news conference discussing the findings of the investigation by Jenner & Block, which dug into accusations against former team video coach Bradley Aldrich and how the franchise responded to the claims.
Reid Schar, a former federal prosecutor who led both corruption trials of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2010 and 2011, led the inquiry and said during the Zoom call that the investigation found the team violated its own sexual harassment policy by effectively taking no action for several weeks from the time former CEO John McDonough and other executives were told about a sexual harassment accusation against Aldrich.
The Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block in June to look into the matter after the former player made the allegations in a lawsuit against the team earlier this year. The team published the Jenner & Block report on the investigation in its entirety following the announcement. The civil lawsuit is pending.
“It is clear that in 2010, the executives of this organization put team performance above all else,” Wirtz said during the call, sitting alongside his father and team Chairman Rocky Wirtz.
“As an organization, we extend our profound apologies to these individuals who suffered from the misconduct of our former employee,” he said. “We must, and will, do better.”
Bowman issued a statement through the team detailing his 2010 actions, noting by title that McDonough did not take appropriate action to address the matter: “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,” the statement said. “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.”
Danny Wirtz, who was not a part of the organization in 2010 but was named CEO last year, added that none of the other team executives who were involved in the Blackhawks in 2010 will be with the franchise moving forward. Blackhawks Vice President of Hockey Strategy and Analytics Kyle Davidson will serve as interim general manager while the team searches for “new hockey operations leadership,” Danny Wirtz said.
The National Hockey League also announced that it has fined the Blackhawks $2 million, half of which will be “dedicated to fund local organizations in and around the Chicago community that provide counseling and training for, and support and assistance to, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in the statement that his office would need to clear the future hiring by another team of senior executives involved in the Blackhawks’ response and named in the Jenner report, specifically McDonough, Bowman, former Executive Vice President Jay Blunk and Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Al MacIsaac.
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