The NHL announced on Friday that it will not discipline Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff regarding his role in the Chicago Blackhawks’ handling of the Brad Aldrich situation during the 2009-10 season.
Aldrich, a video coach with the Blackhawks during that season, was accused by former player Kyle Beach of a sexual assault during that team’s playoff run. An investigation released this week by the Blackhawks found that when the team’s senior executives were informed by Beach, no action was taken for more than three weeks with the organization deciding to keep the focus on hockey and the team’s Stanley Cup run.
Cheveldayoff was an assistant general manager with the Blackhawks at the time.
“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,” said Commissioner Gary Bettman in a league statement on Friday.
“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.”
The incident was discussed by Blackhawks’ management following their Western Conference Final clinching win to advance to the Stanley Cup final. Present at that meeting were then-general manager Stan Bowman, Al MacIsaac, former team president John McDonough, former executive vice president Jay Blunk, mental skills coach Jim Gary, head coach Joel Quenneville, and Cheveldayoff. While the report found that accounts of that meeting vary significantly, it was clear that no immediate action was taken for weeks when McDonough informed the team’s HR department on June 14, well after the team’s Stanley Cup clinching win.
Aldrich was allowed to remain with the team, take part in the Stanley Cup celebration — in the presence of Beach — and was then allowed to resign without further investigation from the team. Three years later he was convicted in Michigan of criminal sexual conduct involving a 16-year-old.
Blunk, Gary, and McDonough are no longer employed in the NHL.
Bowman and MacIssac resigned from their positions with the Blackhawks on Tuesday following the release of the investigation, while Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers on Thursday night (but not until after coaching the team on Wednesday night).
Cheveldayoff is the only one that currently remains employed in the league.
When word of this first surfaced over the summer Cheveldayoff released a statement saying that he had no knowledge of the accusations toward Aldrich until close to the end of his employment with the Blackhawks.
As the report detailed, though, he was at that meeting in late May when it was discussed.
As an Assistant General Manager at the time, Cheveldayoff, who reported directly to Stan Bowman, was the lowest ranking Club official in the room, and his position included no oversight responsibilities over the Club’s coaching staff. He was among the last to be included in the meeting; he was learning of the subject matter for the first time in the presence of his boss (then-GM Stan Bowman), his boss’ boss (then-CEO John McDonough) and the Head Coach (Joel Quenneville), who was Brad Aldrich’s direct superior; he had limited familiarity with the personnel involved; and he was essentially an observer to the discussion of possible next steps, which discussion, apparently, ended with Cheveldayoff believing that the matter was going to be investigated.
Cheveldayoff’s role within the Blackhawks’ organization at the time not only left him without authority to make appropriate organizational decisions relating to this matter, but as importantly, he was not thereafter even in a position to have sufficient information to assess whether or not the matter was being adequately addressed by the Blackhawks. In short, Cheveldayoff was not a participant in either the formulation or execution of the Club’s response.
Cheveldayoff has been the Jets’ general manager since the start of the 2011-12 season.
Cheveldayoff issued a statement through the Jets on Friday.
Statement from Winnipeg Jets General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff: pic.twitter.com/lgiS5jbH5s
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) October 29, 2021