I don’t mean to turn this into “Chicago Controversies This Morning,” but it just so happened that another pretty gross story broke out of these parts last night:
An unidentified former Chicago Blackhawks player has sued the National Hockey League franchise, alleging that he and another teammate were sexually assaulted by an assistant coach before the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup victory.
The lawsuit filed late last week in Cook County Circuit Court was brought by a player identified only as “John Doe” and accuses the team of ignoring his claims against the assistant coach, who went on to be convicted of a sex crime involving a student in Michigan and is now a registered sex offender in that state.
According to WBEZ, the player alleges the assistant coach, identified in the lawsuit as Brad Aldrich — a convicted sex offender in Michigan — “turned on porn and began to masturbate in front of” the player without consent. The suit also alleges the coach sent “inappropriate text messages” as well as threats to “physically, financially and emotionally” damage the player if he “did not engage in sexual activity” with the coach.
Aldrich is no longer with the team.
“This entire man’s life has been destroyed,” Susan Loggans, the plaintiff’s lawyer, told WBEZ. “I mean, he was not able to function within the NHL context and … this has really ruined … his professional career. These professional athletes have to function at the top of their game at all times in order to be competitive, and these things are really debilitating.”
There will be plenty of time to discuss these allegations, which the team told WBEZ “lacked merit,” and what it might mean for the Hawks and the league in general. I will say it’s curious that in a lawsuit where the plaintiff is only asking for $150K, it’s almost shocking that an organization as big as the Hawks even let it get this far. Either they’re totally convinced of their innocence, or their dismissal of this kind of charge is just that heavy and continuing.
“The Chicago Blackhawks take the allegations asserted by a former player very seriously,” the team’s VP for communications, Adam Rogowin, told WBEZ. “We are confident the team will be absolved of any wrongdoing.”
But let me tell you something about the Hawks, or at least the Hawks under former president John McDonough. They are the team that did nothing about coach Bill Peters when he was racially abusing Akim Aliu with their AHL team. They are the team that welcomed back Garret Ross to their AHL team, after he got off his revenge porn charges dropped on a technicality which made it clear he did what he was accused of he just did it in another state, even though punting him into the lake would have cost the Hawks nothing. This is the organization that announced a bobblehead night for Patrick Kane two weeks after he was accused of rape. And that’s just a sample.
So the first reaction of me, or anyone who has been around this team for any length of time, is that it was completely capable of ignoring claims like this and pretending it didn’t happen. That it could just duck responsibility. And they almost certainly still will, as I’m sure they will attempt to dump this all on former president McDonough and make it out to be his fault and they don’t run things that way anymore. But they are, and they know it, and now you do, too.