Bettman exonerates Jets GM NHL will not discipline Cheveldayoff with regard to Blackhawks sexual-assault scandal

His reputation has suffered a hit but Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will keep his job after being cleared Friday morning of wrongdoing for his role in the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual-assault scandal.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/10/2021 (403 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

His reputation has suffered a hit but Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will keep his job after being cleared Friday morning of wrongdoing for his role in the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual-assault scandal.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement exonerating Cheveldayoff, Chicago’s former assistant GM, after the two met in New York.

“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,” Bettman said, in a statement.

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

“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.”

Cheveldayoff is the only one still working in the NHL out of seven ex-Chicago executives who met to discuss allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich and his actions toward two players, Kyle Beach and an unnamed individual.

Jets chairman and co-owner Mark Chipman, accompanied Cheveldayoff to New York and is supporting the only GM the franchise has known since it moved north from Atlanta in time for the 2011-12 season. The pair is expected to face the media early next week and should be prepared to explain what Cheveldayoff knew and when, why he failed to take any direct action more than a decade ago, and why Chipman is comfortable to let him continue to run the Central Division squad.

“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.”
– NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

“First and most importantly, I want to express my support of and empathy for Kyle Beach and all he has had to endure since 2010,” Cheveldayoff said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

“He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story. We can all use his courage as an inspiration to do a better job of making hockey a safer space for anyone who wants to play the game. Further, I want to express my gratitude to the National Hockey League for the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman, in person, and directly share my role in and recollection of events while I was Assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.”

NHL may have cleared Chevy, but plenty of questions remain

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff (Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files)

Posted:

As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman noted Friday, it would have been all-too-easy to toss Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff into the lion's den and give the angry mob the pound of flesh they were demanding. To carpet bomb everyone connected to a clearly broken system that failed several young hockey players who were sexually abused by a predator in their midst.

Instead, Cheveldayoff's career lives to see another day, becoming the last man standing from the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks scandal that has rightfully cost six other colleagues their cushy, high-paid jobs. The league's position will not be popular in some courts of public opinion, where Cheveldayoff has already been tried and convicted. By standing by their man here in Winnipeg, True North may also face backlash.

A popular quote, widely attributed to philosopher Edmund Burke, comes to mind in this sorry situation: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." However, as Bettman wrote in his decision — which are supported by the findings in a damning 107-page independent report released earlier this week — there was enough evidence to spare Cheveldayoff the rod.

That his knowledge was limited as the low-man on the organizational totem pole whose presence in a pivotal May 23, 2010 meeting regarding allegations against video coach Brad Aldrich wasn't even recalled by the majority of other participants. That he was assured the matter was in good hands higher up the proverbial food chain. That his involvement as essentially an "observer" ended that day. That he was not privy to anything that transpired further regarding how Aldrich was handled by the club, nor what he went on to do. And that he has been "extremely forthcoming and credible" about his role.

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Cheveldayoff claims the first he heard of allegations against Aldrich was during that May 23, 2010 meeting. Cheveldayoff would have been the most junior member of management in the room. President John McDonough, executive vice-president Jay Blunk, GM Stan Bowman, director of hockey administration Al MacIsaac, skills coach James Gary and head coach Joel Quenneville were also present.

Cheveldayoff maintains he believed a decision was reached by his superiors to have the hockey operations folks continue to focus on the on-ice product, while senior organizational officials would handle the Aldrich allegations.

As the findings of an independent report concluded earlier this week, details provided to those in the meeting were of sexually inappropriate behaviour such as unwanted advances from Aldrich toward a pair of players, but not of what would meet the criminal definition of sexual assault. The player identified as John Doe — now known to be 2008 first-rounder Beach — concedes he didn’t share the full nature of what happened to him at the time, instead doing so at a much later date.

Cheveldayoff’s position was that he believed the matter would be handled by those higher up the organizational food chain. And, three weeks later, after the Blackhawks won the Cup, Aldrich resigned from the organization. Cheveldayoff has told investigators, along with the Jets and the NHL, he had no knowledge of anything that transpired from that point on. That would include the fact Aldrich went on to land other hockey-related jobs, including at a high school where he molested a player and was ultimately charged, convicted and jailed.

“As the Jenner & Block Report, subsequent review by the League this week, and today’s interview with Cheveldayoff make clear, Cheveldayoff’s participation at the May 23, 2010, meeting involving senior leaders from the Blackhawks’ management team was extremely limited in scope and substance. In fact, in the course of the investigation, most of the participants in the May 23 meeting did not initially recall that Cheveldayoff was even present,” Bettman said Friday.

TNS NHL commissioner Gary Bettman thinks people are "jumping too far, too fast." (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images files)

In fining the Blackhawks US$2 million this week — in addition to Bowman and MacIsaac’s departures — the NHL cited the organization’s “inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters.”

Blunk and Gary left the club earlier this year, while Quenneville resigned as head coach of the Florida Panthers Thursday night following a meeting with Bettman. That shifted the spotlight squarely to Cheveldayoff.

“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 (Bowman), his boss’s boss (McDonough) and the Head Coach (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,” said Bettman.

“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. Given these findings, the NHL has determined that Kevin Cheveldayoff should not be subject to discipline in the Brad Aldrich matter.”

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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Updated on Friday, October 29, 2021 12:54 PM CDT: Updates with statement

Updated on Friday, October 29, 2021 5:42 PM CDT: Updates to final version

Updated on Friday, October 29, 2021 6:31 PM CDT: Updates photo

Updated on Friday, October 29, 2021 6:54 PM CDT: Fixes formatting.

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