Blackhawks owner apologizes for his response to Kyle Beach conversation
Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz apologized Wednesday night after angrily dismissing any conversations related to the franchise’s response when a player said he was sexually assaulted by an assistant coach.
Wirtz made his remarks at a town hall. It was the first time the franchise’s top executives had faced questions in public since the team released a report from an outside law firm that found the organization mishandled allegations of Kyle Beach that he was assaulted by then video coach Brad Aldrich during the team run. the 2010 Stanley Cup title.
“Tonight at Chicago Blackhawks town hall, my answer to two questions crossed the line,” Wirtz said in a statement. “I want to apologize to the fans and journalists, and I regret that my response has overshadowed the great work this organization is doing to move forward. We have the right leaders and the right processes in place to create a safe environment. for our employees and our players.
Town hall on a snowy night in Chicago was meant to be the final stop in the franchise’s work to mend its tattered reputation. But he was derailed by Wirtz’s response when a reporter tried to ask Danny Wirtz, Rocky’s son and team CEO, what the organization was doing to combat the power dynamic between players and coaches in light of Beach’s accusations.
“I’ll answer the question, not Danny,” Rocky Wirtz said. “I think the report speaks for itself. The people involved are no longer there. We are not looking back to 2010, we are looking forward. And we’re not going to talk about 2010.
When Danny Wirtz tried to respond, Rocky Wirtz cut his son off and said it was none of the reporter’s business. When asked why it’s none of the reporter’s business, Rocky Wirtz replied, “You don’t work for the company.”
“If anyone in the company asks that question, we’ll answer it,” Wirtz continued. “And I think you should move on to the next topic. We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach. We are not going to talk about everything that happened. Now we move on. What more do I have to say?
Wirtz also repeatedly interrupted a follow-up question by a second reporter. “Why are you bringing up old cases? says Wirtz.
Wirtz’s outburst challenges the direction of the franchise – once considered one of the best organizations in the NHL – as it seeks new leadership for its hockey operations department. The declining team had lost six of seven heading into Wednesday night’s game with Minnesota, and attendance is down.
Longtime general manager Stan Bowman resigned after Jenner & Block’s review ended in October, and Al MacIsaac, another top hockey executive with the Blackhawks, also left the organization. The NHL fined the team $2 million for “the organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response”.
After thoroughly reviewing the structure of its hockey operating structure, the team plans to begin interviewing GM candidates this week.
“One of the things we’ll be asking every general manager who goes through the interview process is how they’re going to help change the culture of hockey,” Danny Wirtz said at the town hall. “I think it’s essential for anyone in a leadership position to set that example, to set the tone within the organization to make sure we create a safe place for our players to play.”
The Blackhawks reached a confidential settlement with Beach after the former first-round pick’s lawsuit brought his allegations to the fore. Aldrich told team report investigators that the meeting was consensual.
A second lawsuit filed by a former high school student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan was quietly dismissed “by stipulation or agreement” in December.
The investigation commissioned by the team found no evidence that Rocky or Danny Wirtz knew of the allegations before Beach’s lawsuit was brought to their attention before it was filed. President of Business Operations Jaime Faulkner, who also participated in the town hall, was hired in December 2020.
Jay Cohen can be reached at https://twitter.com/jcohenap
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