CHICAGO – Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz wants the Hockey Hall of Fame to cover the name of an assistant coach engraved on the Stanley Cup after the assistant was accused of sexually assaulting a player during the team's run to the 2010 championship.
In a letter addressed to Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald, dated Thursday, Wirtz writes that Brad Aldrich's conduct disqualifies him from being included on the Cup, and the team made a mistake by submitting his name.
“I am humbly requesting that the Hockey Hall of Fame consider ‘x-ing’ out his name on the Stanley Cup,” Wirtz wrote. “While nothing can undo what he did, leaving his name on the most prestigious trophy in sports seems profoundly wrong.”
The Hall of Fame cannot remove a name from the Stanley Cup, but it can decide to engrave a series of X's to cover it up. In his letter, Wirtz pointed to the case of Basil Pocklington, the father of the former Edmonton owner who had his name engraved on the trophy after the Oilers won the 1984 title, but then was covered at the NHL's request because Basil Pocklington had nothing to do with the team.
“That decision, among others, reflects the Cup's storied history of engraving mistakes, misspellings and errors that have ended up enshrined in silver, or been corrected after the fact,” Wirtz writes.
McDonald spoke with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Friday about Wirtz's letter, according to a statement from the Hall.
"The parties agree that this request is appropriate and that they will have further dialogue, including with the Stanley Cup trustees, on how best to effectuate this request,” the statement read.
ESPN first reported on the letter.
Wirtz and the Blackhawks are picking up the pieces of the franchise's shattered reputation after it released a report Tuesday detailing how the team's senior leaders badly mishandled the allegations against Aldrich more than a decade ago.
The independent review by a law firm was commissioned by the team in response to two lawsuits filed against the franchise: one by former first-round pick Kyle Beach alleging sexual assault by Aldrich in 2010, and another filed by a former high school student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan.
Rocky Wirtz said Tuesday that he and Danny Wirtz, his son and the team's CEO, were first made aware of the accusations ahead of the May filing of Beach's lawsuit, an assertion by the owner that also was supported by the report from Jenner & Block.
The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly. Beach spoke with TSN on Wednesday and posted a statement on Twitter on Thursday expressing gratitude for the support he had received in the past couple days.
Beach is slated to meet with Bettman and Donald Fehr, the leader of the NHL players’ association, via separate Zoom calls on Saturday. Susan Loggans, an attorney representing Beach in his lawsuit, said Fehr's time has been confirmed, and they were still working to finalize the schedule for the Bettman meeting.
Loggans said Bettman and Fehr each contacted her asking to meet with Beach.
“Kyle's reaction was that he's glad that they are paying attention to what he brought to their attention 10 years ago,” Loggans told the AP. “So he's very anxious to hear what they have to say.”
According to the Blackhawks' report, Fehr was contacted twice about allegations connected to Aldrich, including by a Beach confidant. Fehr told investigators he couldn’t recall either conversation, but did not deny that they had occurred.
Fehr said Wednesday night in a statement that there was “no doubt” that the system had failed Beach and “we are part of that system.”
Stan Bowman, Chicago’s general manager and president of hockey operations, resigned in the wake of the report, and the Blackhawks announced that Al MacIsaac, another one of the team’s top hockey executives, was no longer with the organization.
The NHL fined the team $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response.”
The consequences of what the Blackhawks did in 2010 — specifically a three-week period during the playoffs when they failed to act on Beach's allegations, allowing Aldrich to remain around the team while it celebrated the championship — reverberated throughout the NHL this week.
Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville met with Bettman on Thursday and then resigned. Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff talked to Bettman on Friday, and the league announced that Cheveldayoff would not be disciplined.
Quenneville and Cheveldayoff were with the Blackhawks when Beach's accusations were first reported to team leadership. Aldrich has told investigators the encounter was consensual.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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