The Blackhawks: A horrific pattern in sports

Stan Bowman at his resignation press conference

Photo by TSN Canada

Stan Bowman at his resignation press conference

Beverly Fishman and Connor Drobny

   All too often, instances of sexual abuse are seen in professional sports. All too often, these instances remain unspoken. Chicago’s professional hockey team, The Blackhawks, has recently been under the spotlight as players have publicized attacks of sexual assault by former video coach Brad Aldrich. 

   In May 2010, Kyle Beach (who remained anonymous as John Doe until 2021) reported an unwanted sexual encounter between him and Aldrich. Both men confirmed that this sexual encounter occurred; however, while Beach claimed that it was a non-consensual act, Aldrich claimed that the interaction was consensual from both parties. In addition to this, Aldrich advanced on a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern around the same time. Following the various reports, on May 23, 2010, a group of Blackhawks officials met to discuss the future of Aldrich’s role and what they wanted to do involving the press; this group consisted of then-president John McDonough, General Manager Stan Bowman, Head Coach Joel Quenneville among others. Although it is unclear what was physically said in that meeting, there was no immediate action taken as a result. Aldrich remained a prominent member of the team and stayed with the Blackhawks through their various Stanley Cup celebrations. 

   For years, the Blackhawks leadership has been criticized for their complacency in the abuse and their allowing Aldrich to stay with the program. These sexual encounters were swept under the rug until May 2021, when Beach filed a lawsuit and stated that Aldrich assaulted him and another player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run. He added that it was reported and ignored completely. A full investigation was carried out, exposing the leaders’ misconduct. These findings were immediately publicized and, as sexual abuse scandals have been more often reported in recent years, fans were stunned. The team put out a statement, “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,” it said, in part. “We deeply regret the harm caused to John Doe (Kyle Beach) 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.”

   Aldrich left the Blackhawks in June 2010. After the investigation of the 2010 sexual assault allegations, Bowman stepped down from his position as General Manager in 2021. 

   Darrin Madeley—former NHL goaltender and Lake Forest Academy Athletic Director—stated that, with instances like these, “You don’t sweep it under the rug; you don’t say we will handle it differently. There should have been a full investigation.” He said, “It’s all about power.” When asked if this resignation and admission of guilt would inspire or change the way that incidents would be reported and handled in future years, he responded “No, no I don’t think this will change anything,” Madeley ended by saying the saddest reality of sexual abuse is “the destruction of innocence.”