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The Blackhawks Have A Lot To Answer For

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Last month, an anonymous former Chicago Blackhawks player filed a lawsuit against his former team, accusing the organization of ignoring allegations of sexual assault that he made against an assistant coach named Brad Aldrich in 2010. WBEZ Chicago first reported on the lawsuit on May 13, at which time a spokesman for the Blackhawks told the outlet that the anonymous player’s lawsuit lacked merit. That denial has started to look increasingly flimsy over the last few days, though, as multiple sources corroborating the lawsuit’s account have started to come forward.

According to the suit, in May 2010 Aldrich watched pornography and masturbated in front of the player without the player’s consent. The suit also says that Aldrich sent inappropriate text messages to the player and threatened to harm him if he did not engage in sexual activity with Aldrich. The player claims in his suit that he reported Aldrich’s misconduct to the team’s mental skills coach, James Gary, who blamed the player for what had happened. When reached by WBZ, Gary claimed to not know anything about the allegations. The lawsuit also alleges that Aldrich had previously sexually assaulted another Blackhawks player, and that the team had been made aware of the assault.

On June 19, TSN reported that two Blackhawks players had told skills coach John Vincent about the allegations against Aldrich in 2010, and that he subsequently told team president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac about what Aldrich had been accused of. Vincent has since confirmed TSN’s report, telling the outlet last week that he would testify on the former player’s behalf:

On Friday, The Athletic spoke to another former Blackhawks player, who is not either of the players mentioned in the lawsuit, who claimed that the allegations against Aldrich were an open secret on the team. “Every guy on the team knew about it,” the player said. “Every single guy on the team knew.”

Yesterday, another former Blackhawks assistant, John Torchetti, told TSN that he remembered Vincent telling him about the allegations against Aldrich, and that Vincent had assured him that he had told “all the brass” at the organization about what had been reported to him.

It’s easy enough for a team to deny one anonymous former player’s allegations in a lawsuit, but there are now several former Blackhawks players and coaches confirming the narrative laid out in that suit, and something that looks a whole lot like a coverup is starting to take shape. The Blackhawks have not issued any further statements on the matter, and the NHL told The Athletic that the league is not currently investigating the Blackhawks’ handling of the allegations.

Aldrich left the team quietly during the 2010 offseason, and a few months later had taken a volunteer coaching job at Houghton High School in Michigan. In July 2012, Aldrich got a job working as a video assistant for the Miami (Ohio) University men’s hockey team, a job which he abruptly left just a few months later. The university told The Athletic that the school is “aware of allegations of improper conduct” by Aldrich, but did not provide a reason for his sudden departure from his job with the hockey team. Aldrich eventually returned to coaching at Houghton High School, and in December 2013 he pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct with a student between the ages of 16 and 18. A former Houghton High School player has also filed a lawsuit against the Blackhawks, in which he claims that Aldrich provided him with alcohol and performed oral sex on him without consent in 2013, when the player was 16 years old.