Chicago Blackhawks' sexual assault case: Latest updates, what we know and what's next

According to a lawsuit filed in May by a former Chicago Blackhawks player -- Kyle Beach, who came forward this week as "John Doe" from the suit -- former video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him and another player during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoff run.

In June, the Blackhawks commissioned an independent law firm, Jenner & Block, to conduct a thorough investigation. That investigation was led by Reid Schar, a former assistant U.S. attorney, and the results were handed over to the Blackhawks organization on Monday.

In the time since the release of the report, key personnel involved with the team in 2010 -- whether still in Chicago or elsewhere -- have resigned or otherwise been relieved of their duties. Here is where things stand now, as well as what could be coming next.

What are some of the main findings from the report released on Oct. 26?

According to the report, on May 8 or 9 in 2010, John Doe -- who Beach has since revealed to be himself -- had a sexual encounter with Aldrich. Both men confirmed to investigators that an encounter happened; Beach said it was not consensual, while Aldrich said it was.

The report says that days later, then-senior director of hockey operations Al MacIsaac was told there might have been a sexual encounter between the coach and player, and separately that Aldrich might have sent an explicit text message to another player. On May 23, 2010, a group in Blackhawks leadership -- including then-president John McDonough, MacIsaac, general manager Stan Bowman, executive VP Jay Blunk, assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, head coach Joel Quenneville and mental skills coach James Gary -- met to discuss what happened. There were varying accounts of what was said in that meeting. However, no action was taken against Aldrich directly after that meeting. He stayed with the Blackhawks through their Stanley Cup celebrations, and was even given a day to celebrate with the trophy.

The report also says Aldrich made a sexual advance to a 22-year-old Blackhawks intern -- after the organization was made aware of the initial allegations.

Several details in the findings implicate individuals from Blackhawks leadership in 2010. Bowman recalled that after learning of the incident, "Quenneville shook his head and said that it was hard for the team to get to where they were, and they could not deal with this issue now." The report also says that numerous Blackhawks players and staff members knew of the allegations but did not act. Additionally, some teammates reportedly teased Beach about the allegations and used anti-gay slurs.

According to the investigation, the Blackhawks' director of human resources met with Aldrich on June 16 and gave him the option to undergo an investigation or resign. Aldrich chose to resign, and no investigation was conducted. -- Emily Kaplan

Why did Stan Bowman resign? What about Al MacIsaac?

In a statement, Bowman said he resigned because he didn't want to become a distraction as the team focuses on the future. Over the last several months, according to sources, Bowman was convinced that he would survive this scandal, and believed that the culpable party was then-president and CEO McDonough, who allegedly told Blackhawks leaders that he would handle the allegations.

The Blackhawks were alerted that the Jenner & Block investigative findings were available last weekend, and as recently as Monday -- the day before they were publicly released -- Bowman thought he could remain in his role, according to sources. Bowman, the son of legendary coach Scotty Bowman, has been with the Blackhawks since 2001. He recently completed building a new condo close to the United Center, a sign that he thought he still had a long-term future with the franchise. However, once Blackhawks ownership digested the report, it became apparent to them that Bowman needed to step down. Bowman discussed his actions in a statement released through the team.

"Eleven years ago, while serving in my first year as general manager, I was made aware of potential inappropriate behavior by a then-video coach involving a player," Bowman said in the statement. "I promptly reported the matter to the then-president and CEO who committed to handling the matter. I learned this year that the inappropriate behavior involved a serious allegation of sexual assault. I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter promptly, I regret assuming he would do so. I am confident that this organization and the Wirtz family will continue to do what it takes to win championships, with integrity and with the goal of doing what is right."

The circumstances of MacIsaac's ouster are less clear, but it appears that he was forced to resign as well. The team's current front office is clear of anyone who was working there in 2010. -- Emily Kaplan

How did the NHL determine the $2 million fine for the Blackhawks?

Through a news release by the league, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the $2 million fine "represents a direct and necessary response to the failure of the [Blackhawks] to follow-up and address the 2010 incident in a timely and appropriate manner. 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."

Half of the fine will be allocated toward organizations in and around the Chicago community "that provide counseling and training for, and support and assistance to, survivors of sexual and other forms of abuse." -- Kristen Shilton

When did the Blackhawks' owners find out about the allegations?

In a news conference after the report was released, owner Rocky Wirtz -- and his son, Danny, the team's CEO -- said they were only made aware of the allegations when "John Doe" filed the lawsuit against the team this May. Nothing in the Jenner & Block report would suggest otherwise.

Rocky Wirtz has been the principal owner of the Blackhawks since 2007, taking over after the death of his father, Bill. Danny, meanwhile, has been in an official capacity with the team since 2020, when he took over as CEO. However, Danny has been an "active adviser" to the Blackhawks over the past decade. -- Emily Kaplan

What's the latest on the Blackhawks' GM job?

Kyle Davidson is serving as interim general manager. Davidson, 33, had been viewed as a rising star in the Blackhawks organization before the scandal broke. He has worked with Chicago for the past 11 years and was promoted to assistant GM in 2018. Over the past five to six years, Davidson has been involved in every key personnel decision the Blackhawks have made. According to sources in Chicago, Davidson has the full support of the organization and will be considered for the full-time position.

The Blackhawks intend to lead a search for external candidates, but there's no urgency on ownership's end. There is also a chance that the Blackhawks look for two candidates: a general manager and a president of hockey operations (Bowman held both titles at the time of his resignation). Danny Wirtz will oversee the search, and Jamie Faulkner -- who replaced McDonough as team president -- is expected to be involved as well. -- Emily Kaplan

Will the Blackhawks split their front-office jobs?

There's a sense around the league that the team would like to split the two titles Bowman held because there's so much triage to be done for the organization on and off the ice. The president of hockey operations role could be a front-facing one, filled by an individual with name recognition who carries the kind of respect necessary to help facilitate an image change. Former Blackhawks player and current Turner Sports analyst Eddie Olczyk -- a popular individual in Chicago -- was an early name linked to that job. Other potential candidates include ESPN insider Kevin Weekes, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray, and Jim Rutherford, who won Stanley Cups as a top executive of the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Rutherford, 72, has filled both roles in the past, like Bowman did with the Blackhawks. If hired in a similar capacity, it would be in the short term: Sources close to Rutherford said his preference is to work as a president of hockey operations rather than day-to-day GM. But if he were to serve as general manager briefly, expect a similar setup to what he originally had in Pittsburgh, where Rutherford oversaw potential replacements (until he decided to keep the gig himself). Davidson could be one of the replacement candidates. Another interesting name: Patrick Burke, currently with the NHL Department of Player Safety, who has a background both in player personnel and in the kind of hockey culture changing that will be necessary in Chicago.

Don't discount the potential of one person taking both roles; one NHL source said it could be a matter of finances. The Blackhawks undoubtedly will still need to compensate Bowman after he stepped aside. Paying a president of hockey operations and a general manager, after losing money for the last year, might not be their aim. If Chicago does split the roles, expect names such as former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, St. Louis Blues VP of hockey operations Peter Chiarelli and former Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis to be in the mix. -- Greg Wyshynski

What's the latest on Joel Quenneville?

After meeting with Bettman, Quenneville announced his resignation as head coach of the Florida Panthers on Oct. 28. Quenneville was in his third season behind the bench in Florida, and had led the Panthers to a 7-0-0 start to the season. In resigning, Quenneville left two years and more than $15 million remaining on his contract.

"I want to express my sorrow for the pain this young man, Kyle Beach, has suffered," Quenneville said in a statement. "My former team, the Blackhawks, failed Kyle and I own my share of that. I want to reflect on how all of this happened and take the time to educate myself on ensuring hockey spaces are safe for everyone."

Bettman acknowledged that "all parties" agreed it was no longer appropriate for Quenneville to remain coaching once word of his involvement in the scandal came to light. Further to that, Bettman said no further action would be taken against Quenneville now, but that if Quenneville does look to get back into coaching down the road, Bettman "would require a meeting with him in advance to determine the appropriate conditions under which such new employment might take place." -- Kristen Shilton

What about Kevin Cheveldayoff?

Currently the GM of the Winnipeg Jets, Cheveldayoff met with Bettman on Oct. 29, and the commissioner decided that he would not be disciplined because he was not responsible for improper decisions made in 2010.

The league released a statement saying it has "concluded that Cheveldayoff was not responsible for the improper decisions made by the Chicago Blackhawks related to the Brad Aldrich matter in 2010, which decisions resulted in the Club's delayed and inadequate response to a report of serious, inappropriate conduct as between Aldrich and Blackhawks' prospect, Kyle Beach."

In his then-role as assistant GM for the Blackhawks, Cheveldayoff was present for the meeting on May 23, 2010, with Bowman, Quenneville, McDonough, MacIsaac and Blunk. The Jenner & Boone investigation found that, while witness interviews were inconsistent about what was said specifically, details of Beach's allegations against Aldrich were shared with everyone present. From there, no action was taken against Aldrich.

In July, Cheveldayoff released a statement saying he had "no knowledge of any allegations" against Aldrich, contrary to what the investigation concluded. Cheveldayoff said he wasn't made aware of the situation until being asked about it toward the end of his two-season tenure with Chicago.

Cheveldayoff released a statement Friday expressing support for Beach.

"He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story," Cheveldayoff said of Beach. "We can all use his courage as an inspiration to do a better job of making hockey a safer space for anyone who wants to play the game."

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday with Jets owner Mark Chipman, Cheveldayoff acknowledged that he was in the room on May 23, 2010, with Blackhawks executives, but maintained he did not know immediately the depth of Beach's allegations.

"I was asked to walk into a meeting that was ongoing," Cheveldayoff said. "I was then asked if I had heard any allegations or if I had known of any rumors or anything like that regarding Brad Aldrich and any of the players. I replied that I had not. My involvement in that meeting after that was none."

"Kyle was failed by a system that should have helped him," Cheveldayoff said. "But it did not, and I'm sorry that my own assumptions about that system were clearly not good enough." -- Kristen Shilton

What has Kyle Beach said after coming forward as "John Doe" from the lawsuit?

Beach released a statement on his Twitter account (@KBeachy12) Thursday night, thanking well-wishers for their support and reflecting briefly on his case becoming public:

"I have immense gratitude for the outpouring of endless love and support that has come through within the past 48 hours," Beach's statement read. "Although the results of the private investigation have been released, and the Blackhawks have apologized, my battle is really just beginning as the Blackhawks continue to attempt to destroy my case in court. While I take this time to reflect and continue the healing process, it is a reminder that this is not about me as an individual. This is to promote open communication that will facilitate change for the future -- to promote safety, as well as the health and well-being of society as a whole. Thank you." -- Kristen Shilton

Beyond the Blackhawks, what is the NHL doing at a leaguewide level?

After Beach's interview aired on TSN, the NHL sent out a leaguewide memo Wednesday night titled "Fostering a Safe and Inclusive Culture."

The document stated that anyone associated with the NHL is "required to immediately report" any conduct that is "clearly inappropriate, unlawful or demonstrably abusive" directly to Bettman and deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly.

One day prior to the memo going out, the NHL disclosed it had set up a confidential and anonymous hotline for league personnel to share any misconduct they encounter. -- Kristen Shilton

What has the NHLPA said?

After an NHLPA conference call with roughly 80 players on Monday, executive director Donald Fehr recommended that the union hire an outside law firm for an independent review on its handling of Beach's allegations of sexual assault against Aldrich in 2010.

The NHLPA executive board, which consists of one representative from every team, will vote on whether to conduct a review.

The call was arranged as players were seeking answers from the NHLPA on its role and how the union could have better supported Beach.

According to an investigative report, commissioned by the Blackhawks and released last week, Fehr was made aware of the allegations, by one of Beach's confidants, in December 2010. Beach was referred to the league's substance abuse and behavioral health program; last week, Fehr said in a statement that "the system failed to support [Beach] in his time of need."

"I know I reported every single detail to an individual at the NHLPA, who I was put in contact with after," Beach said in an interview with TSN. "I believe two different people talked to Don Fehr. And for him to turn his back on the players when his one job is to protect the players at all costs, I don't know how that can be your leader. I don't know how he can be in charge." -- ESPN.com