Ex-Blackhawks exec: Unaware of assault claims

Ex-Blackhawks exec: Unaware of assault claims

Jun 27, 2021

  • Emily KaplanESPN

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      Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said he “was not aware” of any allegations regarding Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 when he worked in the front office.

Bergevin, whose Montreal team is preparing to play in the Stanley Cup Final, began his management career in Chicago from 2008 to 2012 and was the director of player personnel in 2010 when the Blackhawks reportedly had a meeting to discuss sexual assault allegations involving Aldrich.

“It came out recently, there was a meeting that I heard that was done in Chicago, I was not part of any meeting, and I was not part of any decision based on that,” Bergevin said in a pre-Stanley Cup Final news conference on Sunday. “And I was not aware of anything going on at the time. So you can go on the record with that.”

The Blackhawks have remained quiet on the issue while the NHL is not actively investigating how the club handled the situation. According to a lawsuit filed by an unidentified former Blackhawks player, “John Doe,” Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run. John Doe is seeking more than $150,000 in damages. Chicago radio station WBEZ first reported on the lawsuit, which was filed in May.

TSN reported last week that players reported the incident to then-Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent “on or around May 16, before Game 1 of the Western Conference Final.” Vincent reportedly called a meeting a day later at the team hotel in San Jose and shared the information with then-team president John McDonagh, general manager Stan Bowman, senior vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac and mental skills coach James Gary. Vincent said he told the executives to report the incident to Chicago police, but that never happened.

An assistant coach on the team, John Torchetti, corroborated this account to TSN.

“After Paul came forward, he told me he felt so much better that this would be addressed, but then it wasn’t,” Torchetti told TSN. “The guys on that Blackhawks team trusted him. He was like a ‘coach dad’ to them. Paul would be the one who told the other guys on the coaching staff what was going on with players and how we should approach them. I know that must have been very hard for him.”

One member of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team told ESPN that he felt the NHL was “trying to sweep the situation under the rug.”

That player told ESPN that Aldrich showed up for team photos before the Cup parade, and was never seen by the team again.

There were some rumors that “Aldrich tried to do something with players,” the player told ESPN, however there was never any communication at all about what happened. The Blackhawks never announced to the players that Aldrich had departed the organization, let alone explaining why.

“We go to this parade with 3 million people, and within days we’re separated all over the world and get into offseason mode,” the player said.

After that, the player said he never heard Aldrich’s name mentioned around the Blackhawks again.

“It’s scary to think people could turn their head and let this happen,” the player said, noting he was most disturbed by reports that the Blackhawks wrote Aldrich a letter of recommendation for his next job.

After leaving the Blackhawks, Aldrich was convicted in 2013 in Michigan of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a high school student. He was sentenced in 2014 to nine months in prison and five years of probation, which ended in 2019. He is now on Michigan’s registry of sex offenders.