Stan Bowman, the president of hockey operations and general manager of the Chicago Blackhawks, resigned on Tuesday, following the public announcement of the findings from the independent investigation into the handling of the sexual assault allegations against Brad Aldrich, the video coach who worked for the Blackhawks between 2008-2010.
Bowman also stepped down from his role as general manager of Team USA for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The Blackhawks released a statement and apologized for the organization’s actions:
“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,” the organization said. “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.
“What we do off the ice is equally as important as anything we do on it. Our ownership and leadership teams are committed to ensuring that the Blackhawks adhere to the highest ethical, professional, and athletic standards. We will not tolerate behavior that is antithetical to our values from any member of the organization, nor will we accept the type of inaction that allows such issues to continue unchecked.”
The troubling findings of the investigation, which was launched in June of this year, found that Bowman met with the victim to discuss what happened in 2010, during the Blackhawks 2010 championship run. Former Blackhawks’ president, John McDonough was also part of that conversation. Also present included, senior vice president of hockey operations, Al MacIsaac, who also resigned on Tuesday; as well as current Winnipeg Jets general manager, Kevin Cheveldayoff and Panthers’ head coach, Joel Quenneville.
NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman said he will be conducting meetings with both Cheveldayoff and Quenneville to discuss their role in the incident. Both have previously denied knowing anything about the allegations. The League also announced a $2 million fine assessed to the Blackhawks for the “inadequate procedures and mishandling of the 2010 matter related to the conduct of Brad Aldrich.”
“We acknowledge that the Blackhawks have taken responsibility and ownership for what transpired, and have already implemented new preventative measures, as well as committed to additional changes that may be deemed appropriate as part of its responsive plan of action to the investigation and Report,” Bettman said. “Such steps have included, but were not limited to: (i) retaining independent counsel to conduct a thorough investigation into the facts surrounding the 2010 allegations and the sufficiency of the Club’s response thereto; (ii) reviewing the Club’s internal policies, procedures and practices, including its internal operating structure and management personnel, to ensure a best-in-class approach going forward; and (iii) implementing various changes and upgrades to its internal procedures and personnel, including by adding enhanced subject matter expertise, creating more stringent reporting obligations, developing new and modernized employee handbooks, and implementing more comprehensive training and education programs
“Having said that, 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,” Bettman continued. “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. In that regard, we also reiterate that the League has implemented a confidential and anonymous Hot Line, which is available at any time to all NHL personnel.”
The findings were released by the independent law firm, Jenner & Block, who conducted the investigation.
The initial lawsuit filed against the the team by an unnamed former player in the organization, was first reported on May 13. In July, Brent Sopel, a former Blackhawks defenseman said that almost every player on the team knew about the incident.
Aldrich left the Blackhawks after 2010 and spent a season at Miami University (Ohio) in hockey operations in 2012-13, there he reportedly sexually assaulted two men at the university. In 2013, he was convicted of criminal sexual conduct involving a student in Michigan–he is currently on the Michigan registered sex offender list.
Bowman, who has served as general manager of the Blackhawks since 2009-10, has served in a variety of front office roles with the organization since 2000-01. He is the son of the winningest coach in NHL head coach, Scotty Bowman, who remains with the club as a senior advisor.