Even if the overall storyline is what we expected, the details can always be worse than you imagine. The Chicago Blackhawks have released the results of an internal investigation into how they handled allegations of sexual assault and harassment by one of the coaches towards one of their players.
This was only confirmation that you suspected if you've been a long-time sports fan. According to the report, Hawks president John McDonough, their General Manager Stan Bowman, their assistant and GM Al McIsaac as well as their assistant GM Kevin Chevyldayoff and their coach Joel Quenneville were informed of the allegations about an hour after they had won the Western Conference. They would be appearing in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The details of the meeting were not well documented and there are many different accounts. Participants all recalled being told that Aldrich had made an unwelcome sexual advances to John Doe. However, they reported that the incident was only discovered at a high-level by Aldrich, who was a coach. Gary recalls telling everyone at the meeting that John Doe had told him that Aldrich wanted John Doe to have sexual relations with him. John Doe also said that Aldrich threatened John Does career if John Doe refused to submit to Aldrich's advances. None of the participants remembered being told about the clearly non-consensual sexual behavior that John Doe described in his lawsuit. Bowman said that McDonough and Quenneville discussed the difficulties of reaching the Stanley Cup Finals, and how they wanted to be able to concentrate on the team and the playoffs. MacIsaac stated, several years later, that McDonough didn't want negative publicity during Stanley Cup Finals.
Even though the Hawks took some responsibility, it was a heartbreaking and engagingly late decision by the Hawks. The report did not hesitate to bust two people who were no longer part of the team. McDonough, Quenneville are the two men who were portrayed as the leaders in squelching the allegations until the playoff run was over.
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According to the reports, the Hawks collectively didn't do a damn thing during three weeks after being notified of sexual assault, har assment, or until after their Cup run. This was the priority, even though it meant that a monster would be on the payroll. McDonough first informed Human Resources about the allegations. HR then gave Aldrich the ultimatum to either investigate or resign. Aldrich chose to resign, which allowed Hawks to keep the lid on what was seemingly a never-ending affair.
Aldrich was able to harass an intern, another member of the organization, for three weeks. Aldrich was able to attend the banner-raising, be present at the celebrations and get a day with Cup. It is unlikely that Aldrich would have been able to attack anyone else if an investigation had taken place quickly, thoroughly and publicly at the same time.
The Hawks' on-ice success was preserved over all else.
Despite how late and underwhelming it may feel now, the Hawks cleaned their house today. Bowman resigned before being fired. However, it is impossible to imagine how he imagined this. Bowman resigned shortly after being appointed GM of Team USA. Bowman did not have the time to make the cowardly and snakiest statement, "Well, I told my boss!" in an attempt to save his USA hockey duties. McIsaac was also fired. According to the Hawks, anyone found in the Hawks' front office in 2010 will be expelled. The Hawks have asked their lawyers to reach a settlement with both the player and the other survivor from Aldrichs atrocities. Both are currently suing them. This should have been done years ago. None of these people should play hockey again. However, it is about the only thing the Hawks can do at the moment.
It will go further than that. It will reach further than that. Quenneville, who will face hard questions by the time you read this, will likely be out of work or be fired. He was portrayed at the meeting as a key figure in the cover-up to protect the Cup run. Cheveldayoff (currently GM of Winnipeg Jets) will undoubtedly face pointed questions.
The NHL fined $2 million to the Hawks, which may seem like a lot until you recall that they also fined $3 million to the Devils and took draft picks from Ilya Kovalchuk for signing a cap-circumventing agreement. Which was the worst?
Anyone who has been a Hawks fan for the past decade, either as a reporter or fan, will be surprised at the depth of the Hawks' play, but not the action. The organization never hesitated to tout their on-ice success as evidence of their genius. Even though it didn't have much to do with it, or did anything that a first-year student in business could have done, this organization was not afraid to brag about its overall genius. The city's excitement at the Hawks' arrival, and the lack thereof of scrutiny, allowed it to celebrate for years. It also used that to distract attention from the Garrett Ross case, the rape allegations against Patrick Kane (no charges were ever filed), or the controversy over their logo and name, among many other things that have been long talked about in Chicago.
The era of the Hawks celebrating their third birthday as an organization has been completely wiped out. It will be very difficult for those responsible to get work again in hockey. This settlement will not make this right, nor will it be able to alleviate the sufferings of this player and other survivors from Aldrich.
However, even though I knew it would not end in my favor, I feel a little relief that they didn't go with their signature move of pointing at their banners becoming more dusty and pretending that everything was fine because of them.