John Torchetti, who was associate coach of the Blackhawks from 2007 to 2010, said he remembered the Blackhawks coach at the time, Paul Vincent, telling him what the players had entrusted to him and what had happened to him. passed after Vincent presented these allegations to management.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Paul told me what the players told him,” Torchetti said in an interview with TSN on Friday. “We talked about it and he said, with the permission of the players, he had to go and take this to management to take care of it. I remember after the meeting Paul told me that all the brass were in there and they said no to the police.
Last month, a former Blackhawks player who is not identified in court records filed a lawsuit against the team alleging that he and a teammate were sexually assaulted by Bradley Aldrich, a former team video coach. who is no longer part of the organization. The player alleged that after sharing the news of the assaults with a team sports psychologist, he was told the incident was his fault.
A second lawsuit against the Blackhawks by a former Michigan high school hockey player alleges that after learning of the allegations against Aldrich, the NHL team allowed him to remain on staff until the summer 2010 and then gave him a positive job reference, which allowed him to coach with a high school team in Houghton, Michigan, where Aldrich sexually assaulted the then 17-year-old.
Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in prison and 60 months probation. Court records show he was tested for HIV and completed his probation on February 13, 2019.
Vincent told TSN in an interview that the two Blackhawks players told him about their abuse on or about May 16, 2010, before the first game of the Western Conference Finals in San Jose. Vincent said he asked team sports psychologist James Gary to follow up.
Vincent said a day later that he was called to a meeting at the team’s hotel in San Jose with team president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac and Gary. Vincent said he asked team leaders to go to the Chicago Police Department’s sex crimes unit. Vincent said they refused.
The Blackhawks did not comment on this specific allegation and asked a court to dismiss the lawsuits because they were not filed within the appropriate statute of limitations.
“It’s so upsetting, it’s so blatant, because of what this guy was able to do after he left the Blackhawks,” Torchetti said. “You have to know what kind of guy Paul Vincent is. This guy is loyal to foul, the most loyal guy you are going to meet in the game. His background helps explain why he is so upset with issues like abuse. “
Vincent, 74, was a police officer in Beverly, Massachusetts from 1972 to 1982. He told TSN that after he and his late wife Sylvia struggled to have children, they decided to adopt five children through Catholic charities in the Boston area. Some of those children came from struggling homes, he said.
“After Paul showed up, he told me he felt so much better that it would be fixed, but it didn’t,” Torchetti said. “The guys on this Blackhawks team trusted him. He was like a “coaching father” to them. Paul would be the one to tell the other guys on the coaching team what was going on with the players and how we should approach them. I know it must have been very hard for him.
While several groups of survivors have called on the NHL to commission an independent investigation into how the Blackhawks handled the abuse complaint, the league has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was quoted in an article published Friday by The Athletic that the NHL had been in contact with the Blackhawks but that no investigation was underway. Daly did not respond to a question about what it would take to trigger an investigation, the website reported.
In the meantime, more details of Aldrich’s story continue to flow.
An anonymous player for the 2009-10 Blackhawks told The Athletic that all players are aware of Aldrich’s alleged assault.
“All the guys on the team knew about it,” said the player. “All the guys on the team knew that. “
After Aldrich left the Blackhawks in 2010, he worked for the University of Miami in Ohio as director of hockey operations. He left after allegations of unwanted sexual touching, according to police records obtained by TSN. Miami has commissioned an internal investigation into Aldrich’s time at school.
After attending Northern Michigan University, Aldrich coached a Bantam Triple-A hockey team in Marquette, Michigan, before working as a video coach for the University of Notre Dame.
A spokesperson for Notre Dame wrote in an emailed statement that there had been no complaints at the school against Aldrich. The spokesperson did not respond to questions about the hiring of an independent investigator by Notre Dame.
TSN also spoke with a parent whose son played for the Marquette Electricians, the 14 and 15-year-old travel team that Aldrich coached after graduation.
A parent of the team recalls that Aldrich coached for three seasons.
“I was immediately worried that this guy had players in his apartment and that he was getting too close to them,” said the parent, who requested anonymity as he now works with a hockey program. of the NCAA and was ordered not to speak to the media. about Aldrich. “A hockey coach who buys a kid a $ 300 golf driver is preparing. It is what it is.
“I remember one time in the summer after his first season at Marquette the team had a swim and barbecue at a cabin on a lake and when the boys started to wrestle Brad jumped in but he wasn’t really struggling. It looked so wrong. And yes, I said something. But the people running the team told me to mind my own business, and that I was crazy for saying that, and my kid ended up being bullied because of it. Aldrich stayed for at least another season after that.