A paltry $2 million fine for the franchise, less severe than the New Jersey Devils’ penalty for salary cap circumvention. Stan Bowman allowed to resign as general manager, rather than getting fired, with good odds that when hockey’s old boys network cranks up again, he’ll be a consultant or an assistant somewhere.
It’s possible that Chicago will face less in the way of consequences for Brad Aldrich’s heinous actions than the Florida Panthers, whose coach Joel Quenneville, then in Chicago, was key in orchestrating the cover-up; or the Winnipeg Jets, whose general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff also has been called to meet with commissioner Gary Bettman.
Not that Quenneville and Cheveldayoff shouldn’t go down over this — they should. It’s just that the Chicago franchise should’ve been burned to the ground over this, and the earth salted where the United Center once stood. Instead, what’s shaping up is reminiscent, on a much more serious scale, than the fallout from the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, where the New York Mets wound up catching a stray, having to ditch their new, not-yet-game-tested manager Carlos Beltrán, and now are home watching Houston back in the World Series, again.
The rot in Chicago isn’t over just because Bowman and Quenneville and Cheveldayoff and John McDonough and Al MacIsaac are all gone. The Wirtz family still owns the team, and ultimately they are on the hook for all of this, up to and including the report by Reid J. Schar of Jenner & Block that exposes not only the vile past of the Chicago organization, but the present lack of care.
The attempt at transparency by releasing Schar’s full report is the one commendable thing that Chicago leadership has done, and it’s absolutely glowing next to the NFL and Washington Football Team’s handling of the investigation that already has cost Jon Gruden his job as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
In releasing the report, however, a huge mistake was made, one that erases any plaudits for the transparency.
“Report to the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey Team Regarding the Organization’s Response to Allegations of Sexual Misconduct by a Former Coach” is 107 pages long and the name John Doe appears 726 times. That makes sense, as the entire thing revolves around Aldrich’s alleged sexual assault of John Doe. The thing is, John Doe is supposed to be anonymous. That’s why he’s… John Doe.
John Doe has every right not to be identified and traumatized further, but thanks to this report, that’s not going to happen. At various points, the Schar report gives John Doe’s age, alludes to his on-ice role, talks about John Doe’s team in a subsequent season, and lists John Doe’s height and weight.
It already was a select group — the Black Aces during Chicago’s 2010 playoff run — who could have been the victim. The further details about John Doe make it easy for a nosy person to figure out his identity, and naturally that information made its way to social media not long after the report was released.
In the “Anonymity” section of his report, Schar wrote, “Obtaining the cooperation of witnesses is critical in investigations such as this one and important to uncovering the truth. We are grateful to the many individuals who were willing to candidly speak to us about sensitive subjects. Particularly given the sensitive nature of the events at issue and the professional impact that may arise from cooperating with this investigation, we ask that any reader of the report respect witness anonymity.”
That includes the Chicago organization, which was responsible for disseminating the link to the report to the media, and thus, to the public. They knew enough to put in their press release, “Content warning: The report contains graphic descriptions that some may find upsetting or offensive.”
Somebody — Schar, a colleague at Jenner & Block, someone in the Chicago hierarchy, anyone — should have made sure that the possible identifying information about John Doe was redacted. Instead, anybody who wants to put the pieces together has them all laid out, thanks to another betrayal of trust that shows why a $2 million slap on the wrist and a few extremely well compensated and powerful men being able to land on their feet is entirely insufficient as a consequence of not only employing Aldrich, but spending a decade covering up what he did.