Former Blackhawks Teammates Should ‘Tell the Truth Publicly’ About Assault Allegations – .

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Former Blackhawks Teammates Should ‘Tell the Truth Publicly’ About Assault Allegations – .


Former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup champion team, said nearly every player and coach was aware of the allegations of sexual misconduct made by a former Blackhawks player against former video coach Brad Aldrich.

In an interview with TSN on Tuesday, Sopel, who played 22 games for the Blackhawks in the 2010 playoffs, said the Blackhawks’ locker room was buzzing for days with talks about Aldrich in the Conference Finals. of the West 2010, after then coach Paul. Vincent asked Blackhawks management at a meeting in San Jose to report Aldrich’s alleged sexual assault on two players to police that season.

“… I would say pretty much all the players said ‘Holy shit’ and were shocked,” Sopel said. “We were all in the same locker room. It was something that was discussed for at least two or three days. [Then head coach Joel] Quenneville was in the same office as [Aldrich]. We have heard about it.

In a statement sent to TSN on Tuesday, Quenneville, who is now the head coach of the Florida Panthers, denied being aware of the abuse allegations in 2010.

“The allegations in this lawsuit are clearly serious,” Quenneville wrote. “I first learned of these allegations from the media earlier this summer. I have contacted the Blackhawks organization to let them know that I will support and participate in the independent review. Out of respect for everyone involved, I will not comment further while this matter is in court. “

Vincent told TSN in an interview that the Blackhawks leadership, including President John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, refused to share the information with Chicago police.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, who was the Blackhawks’ director of player personnel during the 2009-10 season, also said he was unaware at the time that players had filed complaints against Aldrich and had not attended a meeting to discuss it.

Sopel said he had assumed for years that Blackhawks management alerted authorities after the 2010 season. He said he was reluctant to speak publicly about the scandal in recent months for fear the Blackhawks would attack his organization. charity, The Brent Sopel Foundation that raises funds for children who, like him, have fought against dyslexia.

Sopel is now hoping that other players on that Blackhawks team will speak publicly about what they were told about Aldrich in 2010.

“I understand it’s hard to do the right thing,” said Sopel, who played three seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers after the Cup championship in 2010.

“A lot of those guys that were on the 2009-10 team are still paid with the Blackhawks and they still play, or in broadcast or coaching, management or recruiting or as ambassadors for the team. That’s why they don’t say anything. Guys want to protect their jobs. But they should still do the right thing and tell the truth publicly about what happened.

blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews told The Athletic website in late June that he first heard of allegations against Aldrich just before training camp ahead of the 2010-11 season. Toews said he was “annoyed” when The Athletic quoted an anonymous Blackhawks player as saying that all 2009-10 players were aware of the alleged assaults because “it seemed like it was fueling the fire a bit.”

“As far as I know some guys maybe heard whispers about it and some guys had no idea until next year,” Toews said. “I don’t think that’s an exact statement. “

Sopel’s interview with TSN marked his first public interview on the scandal after posting comments on Twitter on June 25 criticizing the Blackhawks and the National Hockey League for the way they responded to allegations of abuse.

The allegations against the Blackhawks, first made public in a pair of lawsuits against the team in May, have rocked the hockey world.

A former Blackhawks player identified in court documents as John Doe 1 has filed a lawsuit against the NHL team alleging that Aldrich sexually assaulted him and a teammate during the 2009-10 season. After the team’s sports psychologist James Gary told the player he was responsible for the incident, the Blackhawks management then covered up the assaults, the player claimed.

A second lawsuit against the NHL team alleges the Blackhawks gave Aldrich a job reference after he left the franchise in the summer of 2010. This lawsuit was also filed in May by the family of a former Michigan high school hockey player who was convicted by Aldrich. sexual assault in 2013.

“It’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Sopel said. “They gave him a job reference after what he did to their players. Everyone thought the Hawks would do the right thing, but they clearly aren’t. “

After leaving the Blackhawks, Aldrich also worked as director of hockey operations at the University of Miami in Ohio. During his four-month tenure at this school, two adults filed sexual misconduct complaints against Aldrich.

Sopel said he also understands why some players would hesitate to speak publicly about sexual abuse.

“Other sports like baseball, basketball and soccer, most of these guys go to college for at least a few years and grow up a little bit more,” he said. “In hockey, we leave home at 15 to play junior hockey, riding the bus for 25 hours. Our lives are just hockey. That’s it. Everything revolves around sport. A lot of guys aren’t equipped to talk about anything else.

Former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy said in an interview Monday that he was disappointed with the Blackhawks’ response and hopes other players on the 2009-10 squad publicly corroborate that the alleged abuse was okay. known within the NHL team.

As the Blackhawks hired Chicago law firm Jenner & Block to investigate the abuse allegations, the team filed court documents on Friday, July 9 claiming the team did not have a legal obligation. report allegations of abuse to the authorities because the alleged victim was not a minor, disabled or over 65 and living in nursing homes.

The Blackhawks also alleged the team should not be held responsible for the mistreatment of the teenage hockey player in Michigan on Friday as no employment reference letter the NHL team could have given to Aldrich. was intended specifically for this coaching position.

“It’s always deny, deny, deny,” Kennedy said. “When you make a conscious decision to brush up on the abuse and hide it, it’s not a mistake. A decision has been made and they now have an ethical responsibility to do the right thing. Don’t they see themselves as role models for communities and young people? Is this how we want to teach our children and the people who admire us how to deal with problems? “

Kennedy said he remembers how he felt in 1996 after filing an abuse allegation against his former junior hockey coach, Graham James.

“I was the fucking liar,” Kennedy said. “No one believed Sheldon Kennedy until Graham James pleaded guilty. I was alone for a very long time. No one believed me.

Kennedy recalled the many times NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called the league “home.”

“The silence in this Blackhawk case speaks loudly,” Kennedy said. “This hockey family. Anytime a family member says anything to contradict the NHL, they are rejected from the family. What kind of family is this?

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