Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman broke his silence but gave little new concrete information about the team’s sexual assault cover-up investigation in a press conference Thursday.
“I do not condone or tolerate harassment or assault of any type,” Bowman said. “[But] we need to give the experts [investigating this] the necessary time and the latitude to do their job well.
“I am eager to speak about this in more detail in the future, but for now I have to respect the pending litigation and the independent review that’s underway. I’m not going to be able to make any comments about that at this time. We have to let the process play itself out.”
Since June 28, Chicago law firm Jenner & Block has been investigating allegations that former video coach Bradley Aldrich sexually assaulted two Hawks players during the 2010 playoffs, that management at the time — including Bowman — refused to report the incident to police and that the Hawks positively recommended Aldrich to future employers, allowing him to assault a 16-year-old Michigan high school student three years later.
The two lawsuits against the Hawks in Cook County Circuit Court regarding those incidents have not had any new updates since the Hawks filed motions to dismiss weeks ago.
Bowman said he will participate in Jenner & Block’s investigation but dodged the subject of whether the investigation’s results will be made public, a clarification the Hawks and NHL have repeatedly avoided providing over the past month.
“I’m going to give it my full cooperation,” he said. “As far as where it goes, that’s not something that I can comment on. But I do know that we have some experts that we brought in. From my understanding, these are well-respected people in the legal community, and I intend to fully cooperate with them.”
Former coach Joel Quenneville has also said he will cooperate in the investigation but denied he knew about the allegations until this year. Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff, who was a Hawks assistant GM in 2010, said in a Thursday statement he had “no knowledge of any allegations involving Mr. Aldrich until asked if I was aware of anything just prior to the conclusion of [Aldrich’s] employment” with the Hawks.
Bowman declined comment in response to a question if an alleged May 2010 meeting in which former skills coach Paul Vincent told Bowman, then-president John McDonough and other executives about Aldrich’s actions occurred.
He said he’s primarily working on managing the Hawks’ busy offseason of player movement ahead and insisted the investigation and allegations aren’t affecting his day-to-day job, even with his future Hawks employment seemingly resting on the results of the investigation and lawsuits.
“There’s a lot going on,” he said. “There’s no question about that. But I have a job to do here, and that is to build our team as best I can.”
Toews, Nylander updates
Alex Nylander, after missing all of last season recovering from knee surgery, is already 100% healthy and will be at training camp in September.
“He’s training and preparing like normal,” Bowman said. “He’ll be ready.”
But Jonathan Toews — despite breaking his own silence in June, explaining he missed last season while suffering from an obscure condition called Chronic Immune Response Syndrome — is a different story.
Bowman said he and Toews had a meeting Tuesday and they’ve seen each other daily, with Toews coming into Fifth Third Arena to train. But there’s no definitive info on whether or not Toews will be ready for camp.
“It was good just to catch up on things and learn what he’s been through,” Bowman said. “For me, the big thing is focusing on Jonathan getting back to feeling great. When the time is right and when he’s able to join our team, we’re certainly going to welcome him back.
“We don’t know, and Johnny doesn’t know, how he’s going to feel. None of us have a crystal ball to know how he’ll feel in September… We’ll just take that as it comes, though. We don’t have to put any pressure on him being ready for a certain date.”