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The Chicago Blackhawks were just slapped with a massive $2,000,000 fine … after the NHL said the organization failed to adequately investigate an alleged sexual assault involving a team coach and a young player back in 2010.
The NHL announced the financial penalty on Tuesday … and it all dates back over a decade ago, when word got back to Hawks team brass that a player on their team — who hasn’t been identified publicly — claimed he was sexually assaulted by the team’s video coach.
The player — identified as “John Doe” in a civil suit he filed in May 2021 — claimed the coach, Brad Aldrich, said he wouldn’t play in the NHL if he were to turn down the coaches sexual advances … so, fearing losing his career, the player says he had a sexual encounter with Aldrich.
It’s important to note … Aldrich hasn’t denied having a relationship with Doe, however, he’s steadfastly said the encounter was consensual.
After the team found out, they assembled all of the bigwigs, including the president, senior VP, general manager, and head coach, among others, to discuss how to handle the situation.
Shockingly, despite the serious allegation, team officials decided to focus their attention on the team’s play on the ice … as they’d just advanced to the Stanley Cup finals.
The “investigation” was kicked to human resources … though the NHL says it doesn’t appear enough was ever done to address it.
FYI, the Blackhawks ended up winning the Stanley Cup that season.
Fast forward to June 2021 … a Chicago area law firm was hired to look into the organizations handling of the situation, and their investigation determined the organization screwed up, essentially failing to investigate, despite the extremely troubling allegation.
Enter the NHL … who as a result, levied the multi-million fine against the Blackhawks.
“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,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
“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.”
Bettman says the organization knows they screwed up, and they’ve taken a number of steps to ensure they’re better in the future.
“We acknowledge that the Blackhawks have taken responsibility and ownership for what transpired, and have already implemented new preventative measures.”
Those changes include hiring outside counsel to dig into the 2010 incident, overhauling the club’s policies, and educating staff on how to properly handle similar allegations.
The commissioner also noted that should any of the senior-level staff wish to return to the league (none of them are currently in the NHL), they will require approval directly from Bettman prior to their hiring.
The Blackhawks also released a statement accepting responsibility for the screwup, writing, “It is clear the organization and its executives at that time did not live up to our own standards or values in handling these disturbing incidents.”
“We deeply regret the harm caused to John Doe and the other individuals who were affected and the failure to promptly respond. As an organization, we extend our profound apologies to the individuals who suffered from these experiences. We must — and will — do better.”
As for the alleged victim … Doe’s civil lawsuit remains open.