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The Devil and Rocky Wirtz


Chicago’s 2010 Stanley Cup championship was purchased at a horrible human cost:

Having the famous Bowman name on the Stanley Cup underneath the Blackhawks banner has been a point of pride for Rocky Wirtz and the entire organization for years. There’s Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history, serving in an advisory capacity. But there’s also Stan Bowman, etched in silver three times, the caretaker and architect of three championships, taking Dale Tallon’s core and guiding it through the golden age of Blackhawks hockey.

That name carries a different legacy now.

Stan Bowman was one of seven members of the Blackhawks hierarchy in a May 2010 meeting in which they discussed the reported allegations of sexual assault against former Blackhawks player John Doe by video coach Brad Aldrich, according to the findings of Jenner & Block’s independent investigation, released Tuesday. Also in that meeting were team president John McDonough, executive vice president Jay Blunk, vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, assistant general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, coach Joel Quenneville and mental skills coach James Gary.

The Blackhawks chose to keep the allegations quiet, to let Aldrich finish out the season, to have his name etched into the Stanley Cup, to quietly let him go in the offseason, to “participate in celebrations in the presence of John Doe,” to let him have his day with the Cup, to allow him to pursue other opportunities. Three years later, Aldrich pleaded guilty to criminal sexual misconduct with a minor in Houghton, Mich., where he was a volunteer assistant coach. In a lawsuit still working its way through the legal system, the victim — John Doe 2 — lays the blame for that assault at the Blackhawks’ doorstep.

McDonough was fired last summer for pedestrian reasons, for internal strife and power dynamics and the usual C-suite politics. Bowman and MacIsaac, the Blackhawks’ two longest-tenured front-office employees, are out, too, after the damning results released Tuesday in the Jenner & Block investigation.

Bowman “stepped aside” in a mutual agreement, according to Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz.

“​​I believe one of the beautiful parts of our game is the focus on team success over individual achievements and accolades,” Danny Wirtz said. “But that cannot come at the expense of individual safety and well-being. It is clear that in 2010, the executives of this organization put team performance above all else. John Doe deserved better from the Blackhawks.”

Not-so-incidentally, Chicago’s AHL coach during this time was...Bill Peters, while he was doing his documented racisms. What a cesspool.

Bowman had to go, but he was an easy sacrifice — he was weeks away from getting fired anyway, as the team is off to a catastrophic start despite some win-now moves and the player he traded two first-rounders and a good prospect for and then signed to a hugely expensive extension is getting caved in like a 50 cent card table in a tornado. The real test is going to be what happens to Joel Quenneville, who seems at least as culpable as Bowman:

Quenneville isn’t nearly as expendable in purely hockey terms as Bowman fils — he’s a Hall of Fame caliber coach and his Florida team is a real championship contender. But I don’t see any way he should be able to survive this. It’s also worth noting that Arizona lost two draft picks including a high first-rounder for some combine shenanigans, while the Blackhawks will get away with just a fine the billionaire family that owns the team isn’t going to notice, and perhaps an informal agreement to let some executives who are on the way out anyway go. Not great, Gary.

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