Chicago Blackhawks

‘Tone-Deaf' Response From Blackhawks Owner Leads To Transparency Questions

Rocky Wirtz lashed out at news reporters when asked about last year's Kyle Beach sexual assault allegations that led to a team leadership overhaul.

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Some are questioning how transparent the Chicago Blackhawks really are after the team's owner had an explosive response to questions from the media during a live town hall with executives on Wednesday.

The town hall consisted of Chairman Rocky Wirtz, CEO Danny Wirtz and President of Business Operations Jaime Faulkner.

When reporters in the room started asking about the team’s future following last year’s sexual assault scandal involving Kyle Beach’s mishandled sexual assault allegations against former video coach, Brad Aldrich, Rocky Wirtz was visibly bothered by the question.

"We’re not going to talk about what happened,” said Rocky Wirtz. "We’re moving forward. That is my answer. Now, what’s your next question?"

At one point, Wirtz’s son, who is the team’s CEO, tried to interrupt in an effort to answer the reporter’s question, but Danny Wirtz was cut off mid-sentence by his father.

"No, that’s none of your business. That’s none of your business," said Rocky Wirtz. "We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach."

Another reporter fired back at Rocky Wirtz, calling out the owner of the team for resisting the question after promising more transparency following the damning report about the allegations last October.

"I answered it and I told you to get off the subject," said Rocky Wirtz.

Rocky Wirtz later apologized for his response.

"Tonight, at the Chicago Blackhawks town hall, my response to two questions crossed the line. I want to apologize to the fans and those reporters, and I regret that my response overshadowed the great work this organization is doing to move forward," said Wirtz. "We have the right leaders and right processes in place to create a safe environment for our employees and players."

The Executive Director for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation Kaethe Morris Hoffer said although the video was painful to watch, it is "useful."

"It was a live demonstration of what every survivor fears," said Hoffer. "[It was] very useful for so many people to see how often the real discomfort that people have with addressing and grappling with these problems."

Hoffer said it's important for journalists and others to continue ask tough questions.

"It’s critical for any organization to demonstrate it has learned from the past," said Hoffer. "It has to be able to talk about the past. It is never convincing that an entity or group or individual has learned important lessons from the past if it can't talk openly about what those lessons are."

But Hoffer suggests staying away from a "cancel culture" mentality to make real change happen.

"The rest of us need to accept that it is not easy to switch culture," said Hoffer. "So, we have to be patient and give grace to each other."

Kyle Beach’s attorney declined to comment about this incident.

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