November 5, 2021 | SPORTS | By Emma McDermott | Photo by Kira Schulist
Oh, what a miserable year it’s been for the Chicago Blackhawks. They failed to qualify for the playoffs last season and were without their captain for the entirety of it.
The team started the 2021-2022 season with a nine-game losing streak. Duncan Keith was traded to the Oilers during the offseason. Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw, both beloved in Chicago (especially the latter), ended their careers due to injuries.
Worst of all, news of a sexual assault scandal broke and revealed that many key figures in the organization knew of and covered up the misconduct.
A former Hawks player Kyle Beach described his experience in a televised interview after filing a lawsuit in May accusing former video coach Brad Aldrich of sexually assaulting both him and another player during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run.
In response, the Blackhawks hired Jenner & Block, an independent law firm, to investigate the accusations. The Blackhawks organization received the findings on Oct. 25, publishing the results to the public the next day.
The report found that Aldrich had a sexual encounter with Beach, on May 8 or 9 in 2010 (which, for context, was during the middle of the Western Conference Semifinals against Vancouver). Days later, former senior director of hockey operations Al MacIsaac was made aware of this encounter and that Aldrich may have sent sexual text messages to another player.
Members of Blackhawks leadership, including then-president John McDonough, MacIsaac, then-general manager Stan Bowman, and then-head coach Joel Quenneville, met on May 23 to discuss the allegations.
Aldrich was not punished directly after that meeting and remained a part of the organization throughout the Stanley Cup run and celebration, even getting his own day to celebrate with the Cup.
The report also found that some players and staff members knew of Beach’s allegations and, instead of acting, several of them teased him about it, referring to him with homophobic slurs. Jonathan Toews, who captained that 2010 Stanley Cup team, has admitted to learning about the allegation at the next season’s training camp and did nothing, either.
The investigation reported that the Hawks’ director of human resources met with Aldrich on June 16, offering him the choice to undergo an investigation or resign. He chose to resign, and there was no further investigation into the matter.
After his resignation, Aldrich assaulted a teenager in Michigan and did time in prison for it. He was registered as a sex offender. Aldrich was then hired by Miami University in 2012, where he received two allegations of sexual assault and then resigned. In 2013, he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old at a hockey program in Michigan.
Since the filing of the lawsuit and the findings of the investigation have been released, Bowman resigned, MacIsaac was booted, and Quenneville (known by fans and players as “Q”), who was the head coach of the Florida Panthers up from 2019 until last week, resigned.
Blackhawks ownership says they were first made aware of the accusations at the time of the lawsuit’s filing, and no evidence has been found to disprove that. Upon receiving the report, owner Rocky Wirtz immediately asked that Aldrich’s name be removed from the Stanley Cup.
The findings of this report have rocked the Blackhawks organization. Captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captain Patrick Kane, both darlings of Chicago and the Blackhawks organization, have expressed their sympathy towards Beach. However, they also spoke highly of Bowman, which resulted in some controversy.
Marian Hossa, another beloved player who helped the Hawks win three Cups in six years, is postponing his legacy night as a result of the news.
The United Center, or the “Madhouse” as it’s known to locals, has been harrowingly empty on game nights since the news broke. The Blackhawks are in shambles, both on and off the ice, both organizationally and morally.