The Chicago Blackhawks and a former player who claimed he was sexually abused by an assistant coach have reached an agreement in a lawsuit that shattered the franchise’s once-stout image and shook up the NHL, resurfacing issues about the sport’s culture.
The sides met with a mediator for the first time on Wednesday and reached a private agreement. The Zoom session included former first-round selection Kyle Beach and Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz, the son of team owner Rocky Wirtz.
“The Blackhawks hope that this conclusion will provide Mr. Beach some degree of peace and closure,” the team stated in a statement attributed to Rocky and Danny Wirtz, as well as Beach’s attorney, Susan Loggans.
“As for the Blackhawks organization, we remain committed in our commitment to guarantee that this club remains a symbol of professionalism, respect, and integrity in our community moving forward.” We are appreciative for the Blackhawks’ community’s trust and support, and we pledge to work hard every day to earn and preserve that trust.”
A second case was filed in May by a former high school student who was convicted of attacking Brad Aldrich in Michigan. Although the lawsuit is still pending, the parties have agreed to meet again in the future to negotiate a resolution.
Beach’s charges were dismissed by the Blackhawks as early as mid-May. However, Beach’s accusations that he was attacked by Aldrich during the club’s 2010 Stanley Cup run were horribly mismanaged, according to an independent assessment commissioned by the team and revealed in October. The encounter, according to Aldrich, was consenting.
Beach, then a 20-year-old minor leaguer called up in case the Blackhawks needed aid in the playoffs, and Aldrich, then 27, met on May 8 or 9 in 2010, according to the Jenner & Block article.
Beach said in his complaint that Aldrich, a video coach at the time, threatened him with a souvenir baseball bat before forcibly performing oral sex on him and masturbating on the player’s back.
General manager Stan Bowman, top hockey executive Al MacIsaac, team president John McDonough, executive vice president Jay Blunk, and assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff met with coach Joel Quenneville and mental skills coach Jim Gary to discuss the allegations two weeks later, on May 23, 2010, just after Chicago advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.
The inquiry was undertaken by former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who concluded that recollections of the meeting “vary dramatically.” However, there was no indication that anything was done about the allegations before McDonough notified the team’s head of human resources on June 14 — a wait that, according to Schar, was in violation of the franchise’s sexual harassment policy.
Aldrich continued to work for and travel with the team for those three weeks. Aldrich “made an inappropriate sexual move” against a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern, according to Schar.
Following the independent assessment, Bowman and MacIsaac both resigned from the organization. By the time the report was released, McDonough, Blunk, and Gary had already left the NHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman met with Quenneville and Cheveldayoff. Quenneville then left as coach of the Florida Panthers, although Cheveldayoff stayed as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets. Chicago was also penalized $2 million by the league.
Early in November, Loggans and Blackhawks officials met for roughly an hour to discuss a settlement. “Each side had various opinions,” she stated after the meetings.
The team’s investigation found no indication that Rocky or Danny Wirtz were aware of the claims until Beach’s complaint was brought to their notice before it was filed. In October, Danny Wirtz stated that he had asked the team’s solicitors to seek “a fair resolution commensurate with the totality of the circumstances.”