God help the poor redneck walking on the big Blackhawks badges planted in the middle of the locker room at the United Center. It’s holy land and Hawks players will cry murder if a journalist’s foot accidentally gets lost.
The protection of this image is considered a noble quest. But who was protecting two players who were allegedly sexually abused by the team’s video coach in 2010? And where were the angry voices then?
This is what happens when the custody of an institution becomes paramount.
If all the sexual abuse scandals in various sectors of society have taught us anything, it is that we cannot trust those in power.
But those allegedly mistreated players – where were their Hawks teammates to defend them?
We hear so much about the importance of leadership in sport. Where was he in the Blackhawks locker room?
At least three former players of the 2010 Stanley Cup team recently said the alleged assaults on Bradley Aldrich were no secret to the team at the time. This is the definition of “too late”.
I want to be clear here: It was up to those high up in the Hawks’ power structure to act responsibly, to protect the vulnerable, to show courage. To call the police. If what the lawsuit says is true, they haven’t. A former Hawks skills coach asked in a 2010 meeting with then-president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, executive Al MacIsaac and skills coach James Gary that they surrender to the police with the allegations. He said the group rejected his request.
Three years later, Aldrich allegedly assaulted a 16-year-old boy in Michigan, served jail time for it and is now on the state’s registered sex offender list. The alleged victim in that case has filed a lawsuit against the Hawks, saying the team gave Aldrich positive references despite knowledge of his history of sexual assault.
Everything is terrible, and there is more than enough terrible for everyone.
Hawks players, especially the older ones, have failed. They were not high school or college students who lacked maturity to express themselves. They were adults, some in their mid-twenties, others in their thirties. There is no doubt that there is pressure to comply in professional sport, to do what is best for the group. The players may have feared losing their jobs or being sent to another team if they spoke. Or maybe they were relying on management to do the right thing.
All of these things might have been true, but 11 years later they seem very weak in light of the allegations and the painful consequences. If the Hawks players really thought management would take care of the problem, wouldn’t they have wondered why there hadn’t been a subsequent report on the police charging the team’s video coach with sexual assault? ? Couldn’t the players have continued to seek justice for the alleged victims?
I was reading “Bear Town” when the details of the Hawks scandal began to emerge. It’s a novel about a junior hockey team and the hold it has over a small community in Sweden. This grip turns into an angry fist when the star player is accused of rape and the immediate reaction of the team and many of the townspeople is to protect the organization.
That’s what the lawsuit, in so many words, accuses the Hawks of doing. It will be interesting to hear what the two alleged victims say the team management told them to do. If the history of these scandals is any guide, staying silent has been strongly suggested. You know, for the sake of the team, which was a month away from winning the Stanley Cup. A broom appeared, a carpet was lifted, and ugly details found a house with no light.
But ugly details never go away. Just because a player who wants to stay in the good graces of an NHL team is ready to accept a shameful corporate strategy doesn’t mean he is the same person more than a decade later. Hence a trial and an organization that promises to be horrible at the moment.
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews disagrees with the notion that the sexual assault allegations were common knowledge in 2010, telling The Athletic he had only started to hear about it until the next season.
But who knew what when doesn’t matter. Speaking matters. So where were the teammates? Where were their voices?
Depending on the player’s costume, Aldrich ” sent. . . inappropriate text messages, ” ” turned on porn and started masturbating in front of [John Doe] . . . without his consent ” and ” threatened to hurt [Doe] . . . physically, financially and emotionally if [Doe] . . . has not had sexual activity. ”
Coaches and general managers highlight the positive effects of a good team culture. They want everyone to be on the same page. They want players to sacrifice individual glory for the good of the team. They don’t want problems, but if there are problems, they want them to stay “in-house”. Protect the brand, at all costs.
This is how scandals happen, in all circles. In this case, if the details of the lawsuit are facts, it made a lot of people who should have known better stick together.
Shame on everyone.