Former Blackhawks Video Coach Was Investigated for Possible Unwanted Sexual Contact

Blake SchusterContributor IJune 23, 2021

PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC - OCTOBER 04: A Chicago Blackhawks jersey in the locker room prior to the NHL Global Series Challenge 2019 match between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers at O2 Arena on October 4, 2019 in Prague, Czech Republic.  (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)
Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks failed to aid police with an investigation into their former video coach, Bradley Aldrich, over potential unwanted sexual contact with minors and young adult men, according to WBEZ's Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney.

Aldrich pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct toward a Michigan high school hockey player in 2013, but police reports obtained by Arnold and McKinney show that he was investigated for other alleged "inappropriate" and "uncomfortable" sexual contact before that. The Blackhawks reportedly declined to provide any information without a court order.

Per Arnold and McKinney:

"The police report obtained by WBEZ from the Houghton, Mich., Police Department outlines repeated allegations of a sexual nature against Aldrich during his time as an assistant high school hockey coach there after departing both the Blackhawks and Miami University.
"The heavily redacted report reveals that police in the remote city about 420 miles due north of Chicago investigated at least two previously unreported instances of alleged 'inappropriate' and 'uncomfortable' sexual contact by Aldrich prior to the fall 2013 criminal investigation.
"The report discloses how Houghton police contacted the Blackhawks about Aldrich's time with the team, but the franchise's front office would only confirm the former coach was once an employee."

On June 1, TSN's Rick Westhead reported that a former high school hockey player was suing the Blackhawks for allegedly providing Aldrich a "positive employment reference despite knowing he was a sexual predator."

The lawsuit came weeks after a former Blackhawks player sued the franchise. The player, known as John Doe, said that Aldrich assaulted him in 2010 and sent him inappropriate and threatening texts. The player also said that the team's mental skills coach, James F. Gary, convinced him that he was at fault.

Westhead also reported that senior management chose not to contact Chicago police during the 2010 playoffs after two players said that Aldrich sexually assaulted them at his apartment during the regular season. Chicago would go onto win the first of three Stanley Cups in six years that June.

Westhead reported that the two Blackhawks players told then-skills coach Paul Vincent about being assaulted and Vincent shared what the players told him with general manager Stan Bowman, then-president John McDonough, vice president of hockey operations Al MacIssac and sports psychologist James Gary during a meeting on May 17, 2010, at a hotel in San Jose, California.

Bowman and MacIssac are still in key leadership roles.

Before joining Chicago in 2008, Aldrich worked for the University of Notre Dame. He joined Miami University (Ohio) as director of hockey operations in 2012. Aldrich also served as the video coach for the silver-medal-winning U.S. Men's National Hockey Team at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

An attorney for Miami University told police Aldrich resigned in 2012 "under suspicion of unwanted touching of a male adult," before he began coaching high school hockey in Michigan.

Arnold and McKinney reported the university has since opened an internal investigation.

Lawyers for the Blackhawks filed a statement of defense on June 14 arguing the former player's case be dismissed because of Illinois' statute of limitations. The team also told Arnold and McKinney it takes the allegations "very seriously" but said the lawsuits "lack merit, and we are confident the team will be absolved of any wrongdoing."

"The Blackhawks are an organization very worried about its reputation, perception and history," the player told Arnold and McKinney. "They have a proven track record of cover-ups, including this abuse."