The NHL will not discipline Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff for his role in the Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault scandal, the league announced Friday after a meeting between Cheveldayoff and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
“While on some level, it would be easiest to paint everyone with any association to this terrible matter with the same broad brush, I believe that fundamental fairness requires a more in-depth analysis of the role of each person,” Bettman said.
“Kevin Cheveldayoff was not a member of the Blackhawks senior leadership team in 2010, and I cannot, therefore, assign to him responsibility for the Club’s actions, or inactions. He provided a full account of his degree of involvement in the matter, which was limited exclusively to his attendance at a single meeting, and I found him to be extremely forthcoming and credible in our discussion.”.
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According to the findings released from a team-commissioned independent investigation by Jenner & Block on Tuesday, Cheveldayoff, then Chicago’s assistant GM, was part of a meeting with team leaders who did not act when a player, “John Doe,” alleged former video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulted him in 2010. The May 23 meeting also included former GM Stan Bowman, ex-coach Joel Quenneville and team president John McDonough, who would not report the alleged incident to human resources until June 14, days after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. Human resources allowed Aldrich to resign June 16 instead of face an investigation.
Kyle Beach, a 20-year-old prospect in 2010, identified himself as “John Doe” in a TSN Canada interview on Wednesday.
“First and most importantly, I want to express my support of and empathy for Kyle Beach and all he has had to endure since 2010,” Cheveldayoff said in a statement Friday. “He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story. 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.”.
The league said in its Friday announcement that “in the course of the investigation, most of the participants in the May 23 meeting did not initially recall that Cheveldayoff was even present” and that he was the “lowest ranking Club official in the room, and his position included no oversight responsibilities over the Club’s coaching staff.” It also said that Cheveldayoff was the last person to be included in the meeting and was “learning of the subject matter for the first time” then. The NHL said Cheveldayoff did not have the “authority” to make decisions on the situation and also did not have “sufficient information” to determine if it was being handled correctly.
Cheveldayoff said in July: “I had no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of his employment with the Chicago Blackhawks.”.
According to the report, Cheveldayoff recalled during the independent investigation that “John Doe and Black Ace 1 were specifically referenced during the meeting. Cheveldayoff also recalled that he felt shocked at the time because it was not common for coaches and players to socialize, and he believed at the time that the allegations were serious. He further recalled someone stating that the allegations needed to be investigated and that someone would make sure the two players and Aldrich would be kept separate.”.
“Black Ace 1,” a different player, has not come forward.
Quenneville resigned as the Florida Panthers’ coach Thursday following a meeting with Bettman, and Bowman resigned Tuesday as GM and president of hockey operations upon announcement of the report’s findings. McDonough left the organization in 2010.