As more details surrounding allegations of sexual abuse against Blackhawks players by former video coach Brad Aldrich emerge, some players are starting to speak out.
In a story published by the Athletic Tuesday morning, several players reacted to Thursday's bombshell report that the alleged sexual abuse of Blackhawks players on the 2010 Cup-winning team was an "open secret" among staffers and players in the organization.
“Every guy on the team knew about it,” an anonymous player on the 2010 team told The Athletic. “Every single guy on the team knew.”
Earlier this June it was revealed that a video coach for the Chicago Blackhawks allegedly sexually assaulted two players on the team during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The alleged incidents were reported by the players to then-skills coach Paul Vincent in May of 2010 during the Western Conference final versus the San Jose Sharks. Vincent reportedly informed the team's front office of the alleged assaults, but the group — which included then-Blackhawks president John McDonough, vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, general manager Stan Bowman and team sports psychologist James Gary — refused to disclose the claims to Chicago police, according to TSN's Rick Westhead.
One of the players filed a lawsuit in Illinois in May that alleges the Blackhawks ignored the sexual abuse claims. The allegations also include claims that Aldrich sent inappropriate text messages and declared threats if the players did not participate in sexual activity.
On Wednesday, another dark layer to the story arose as Westhead reported that the abuses were an "open secret" within the organization — among staff, coaches and players.
Nick Boynton, a former defenseman who was part of that 2010 squad, said to The Athletic that Vincent told the players he would report the allegations to the team's brass, and he believes Vincent did just that.
“I trust [Vincent] over the front office,” Boynton said. “He’s a stand-up guy.”
Aldrich has his name on the Stanley Cup and can be seen in many of the team's championship photos. Another former player who was not one of the two who informed Vincent about Aldrich’s alleged assaults told the Athletic that Aldrich being a central part of all those memories isn't what angers him most.
“That doesn’t bother me, that they let him take pictures with the Cup,” the player said. “What bothers me is they fired him, but they didn’t take it to the cops. … They let him get a job with a U-18 team. They let him go work with minors. They let this happen.”
As the player noted, Aldrich remained with the team after Vincent alerted management of the alleged assaults until the end of the playoffs, and then left the team to “pursue other employment opportunities.”
Aldrich later joined the coaching staff of a high school hockey team and eventually pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct with a student between the ages of 16 to 18 years old. The abuse involved a 17-year-old player and included “sexual touching and a brief instance of oral penetration…”
In February 2014, Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in prison and five years of probation. He is a registered sex offender in Michigan.
The victim of that crime filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks for allegedly providing Aldrich with a positive reference letter — despite knowing about the sexual assault claims — which allowed him to get the job with the high school team, according to TSN.
The Athletic's Mark Lazerus and Katie Strang were able to get a comment from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, who said the NHL has "been in contact with the club regarding the matter but there is no ongoing investigation. We do not have any further comment at this time.”
Former defenseman Brent Sopel wrote a rather scathing indictment of that 2010 team's hockey operations department, tweeting this in response to a thread containing Daly's quote:
"The front office staff should be in jail. The NHL is showing there [sic] true colours. Gary doesn’t care about anyone but himself. This is absolutely disgusting that the NHL is doing nothing."
Aldrich, nor anyone from the Blackhawks organization or the NHLPA has commented on the allegations as of this writing.
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