How Blackhawks Move Forward Off the Ice Will Be More Important Than What They Do on It

How Blackhawks move forward after disturbing day originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Blackhawks made significant organizational changes on Tuesday after releasing publicly the findings of the Jenner & Block investigation into the sexual assault allegations against former video coach Bradley Aldrich and the handling of the matters internally.

Stan Bowman, who had his fingerprints on all three championship rosters, stepped down as President of Hockey Operations and GM less than a year after being promoted. Al MacIsaac, who had been with the team for 21-plus years, was removed from his position as well. The Blackhawks were fined $2 million by the NHL.

All of the executives associated with the 2010 Stanley Cup team are gone, and that includes John McDonough, who was fired as President and CEO in April of 2020. Nobody is left. And that's how it should be, given that neither of them took action when they were trusted to do so.

"I believe one of the beautiful parts of our game is the focus on team success over individual achievements and accolades," CEO Danny Wirtz said in Tuesday's press briefing. "But that cannot come at the expense of individual safety and well-being. It is clear that in 2010, the executives of this organization put team performance above all else. John Doe deserved better from the Blackhawks."

Yes, he did.

The 107-page report was uncomfortable to read, to say the least. The details were graphic and difficult to stomach. It's upsetting that it took 11 years for John Doe to get some kind of justice, and even more maddening that Aldrich's behavior was allowed to continue at his next stops.

How could trying to win a Stanley Cup trump doing what was necessary upon hearing the horrific alleged encounter between a player and coach? How did nobody take the side of John Doe? How was Aldrich's behavior not reported to the police, ever? The Blackhawks' leadership group failed again and again and again.

Wirtz, who did not have a role with the Blackhawks in 2010, said all the right things on Tuesday as he looks to change the culture inside the organization, which has already started. Actions will speak louder than words moving forward, but the Blackhawks appear to be in good hands with he and President of Business Operations Jamie Faulker leading the way off the ice.

And then there's what's happening on the ice.

Hockey comes secondary on a day like today, but the Blackhawks couldn't have a bigger crisis on their hands right now. They're winless through six games (0-5-1), have been booed out of their own building in each of the last three contests and franchise icons Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are among the five players and three coaches that are in COVID-19 protocol.

Kyle Davidson, who's serving as the interim GM, is a bright hockey mind and has deserved every promotion he's gotten within the organization. But the Blackhawks are at a major crossroads after overhauling their roster in the offseason and. at some point, somebody will have to address the direction if the spiral continues, because this is certainly not what anybody envisioned at the beginning of the season.

While question marks remain on the ice, what the Blackhawks do off of it is most important as the franchise moves forward from a disturbing day. They need strong leadership at the top. Win or lose.

"The Blackhawks are a very different organization than we were in 2010," Wirtz said. "And I’m not talking about wins and losses. I am confident that this would not be tolerated in our organization today. We deeply regret the harm caused to John Doe and the other individuals who were affected at our failures to promptly address these allegations as we became aware of them. As an organization, we extend our profound apologies to these individuals who suffered from the misconduct of our former employee. We must and will do better.

"What the Chicago Blackhawks do off the ice is equally as important as anything we do on it. Our family and our executive team are committed to ensuring that the Blackhawks adhere to the highest ethical, professional and athletic standards. We intend to win championships without compromising our integrity. And we hope that we can continue to earn the trust and support of the entire Blackhawks community as we move forward with this as our primary goal."

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