An architect of three Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks teams on Thursday refused to commit to making public an internal investigation into an ex-coach’s alleged sexual misconduct against a former player.
For the first time, the team’s longtime general manager, Stan Bowman, addressed questions about the Blackhawks’ response to the allegations against ex-assistant coach Brad Aldrich.
Those allegations from 2010 have shone a light on the team and its championship season that year because Aldrich went on to commit a sex crime against a teenaged male hockey player in Michigan. That 2013 conviction landed Aldrich on Michigan’s sex offender registry.
In Thursday’s briefing with reporters, Bowman cited an ongoing team investigation by the Chicago law firm of Jenner & Block as a basis for shutting down most questions about the Aldrich matter. Two related lawsuits are pending against the team – one from the unnamed ex-Blackhawks player and the other from the former high school player Aldrich admitted to abusing.
“I’m eager to speak about this in more detail in the future, but for now I have to respect the pending litigation and the independent review that’s under way,” Bowman said.
Bowman, the highest-ranking team official to speak about the Aldrich-related lawsuits so far, pledged his “full cooperation” with the Jenner investigation but would not commit to making its findings public.
“As far as where it goes, that’s not something I can comment on,” Bowman said. “I do know that we have some experts that we brought in. From my understanding, these are well-respected people in the legal community and I intend to fully cooperate with them.”
The team official also would not comment about a report by the Canadian sports network TSN that Bowman and other team officials met in May 2010 to strategize about how to deal with the ex-player’s claims that Aldrich masturbated in front of him and threatened to harm him professionally and financially if he didn’t engage in sexual relations with him.
“That’s something that’s part of the investigation,” Bowman said Thursday. “It wouldn’t be right for me to be commenting on that right now,” said Bowman, who characterized the climate surrounding the team in the face of the lawsuits as “business as usual.”
“We take this very seriously. I take this very seriously. But we have to let the process play itself out,” he said. “That’s where things are today and we’re gonna let this play itself out and we’ll probably be able to comment more on that at a different time, but that’s where we are today.”
WBEZ was the first to report about the ex-player’s lawsuit against the Blackhawks, which has now mushroomed into an international sports story involving one of the National Hockey League’s most storied franchises.
That player, who has not been publicly named and is identified in litigation only as “John Doe,” alleged in his lawsuit against the team that he reported Aldrich’s conduct to another coach but was told he had brought Aldrich’s sexual advances on himself.
Neither the team nor the player appeared to have sought charges against Aldrich with Chicago police.
The Blackhawks have moved to have the lawsuits dismissed by a Cook County Circuit Court judge, who has yet to rule on the team’s motions.
WBEZ also has reported that a subsequent Aldrich employer, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, has hired a law firm to investigate his five-month tenure with the university in 2012. The university has acknowledged two individuals – one a former student and the other a non-student – have alleged Aldrich initiated unwanted sexual contact with them.