Blackhawks’ championship legacy blighted by failures of men who should’ve done better

Blackhawks’ championship legacy blighted by failures of men who should’ve done better

The Hawks’ 2010 glory: tarnished forever. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A cover-up, despicable in its own right, will linger in an alleged sexual predator’s foul wake.

It’s right there, engraved on the Stanley Cup:

Brad Aldrich.

Two words that, now, only begin to define the signature period in the history of the Blackhawks. The name of Aldrich — alleged sexual predator — is there along with 51 others representing the Cup-winning Hawks of 2010. Like cards in the same sordid deck, the 52 names share more than winning, more than blood, sweat and tears and the glorious ending of a 49-year title drought in common.

Fair or not, they’re all part of the same indelibly tarnished legacy.

That legacy belongs to the Cup-winning Hawks of 2013 and 2015, too. Aldrich, the former video coach alleged to have assaulted a player in 2010 — and later a high school player in 2013 — was gone from the organization years before the second and third title runs. But a cover-up, despicable in its own right, lingered in his foul wake.

An independent investigation, the details of which were revealed Tuesday, determined that then-president John McDonough and executives including Al MacIsaac, Jay Blunk, general manager Stan Bowman and assistant GM Kevin Cheveldayoff — as well as then-star coach Joel Quenneville — all were informed and aware of allegations against Aldrich by a Hawks prospect and did far less than acceptable in response. In some cases, they did nothing at all.

All their names are on the Cup, too.

McDonough, the iron-fisted boss, was found to have taken no action for at least three weeks after meeting with the men above to discuss strategy. In that time, the Hawks went from winning the Western Conference finals — with a private meeting beginning less than an hour after the clinching Game 4 — to hoisting the Cup in Philadelphia. On June 10, 2010, one day after the season ended, Aldrich is alleged to have made an unwanted sexual advance toward a Hawks intern. Not until days after that did McDonough meet with the organization’s director of human resources.

Quenneville — an all-time great now coaching the Panthers — is characterized in the report as having been, like McDonough, against taking any immediate action that might distract the Hawks from their mission to win the Cup. Others, including Bowman, then a first-year GM, come off no less poorly for their reticence and complicity.

After resigning Tuesday, Bowman offered in a careful, scanty statement: “I relied on the direction of my superior that he would take appropriate action. Looking back, now knowing he did not handle the matter properly, I regret assuming he would do so.”

The words of a leader? No. Actions speak louder, and Bowman, Quenneville et al. should all be ashamed of their spineless roles in the tarnishing of a championship legacy. But that’s not enough. The Panthers should part ways with Quenneville if he doesn’t have the integrity to step away on his own. Cheveldayoff, now the GM in Winnipeg, should be gone with Wednesday’s outgoing mail. And so on.

Where does this leave the Hawks? Organizationally, they’ll work on picking up the pieces. While, incidentally, putting a terrible 2021-22 team on the ice with a perhaps in-over-his-head coach who’s being booed nightly. And with a sellout streak that is no longer. And with a name and logo that is, let’s face it, outdated and offensive to many.

Meanwhile, many members of the 2010 Cup run — current star players included — should consider saying more than they have about what they knew and when they knew it, what they felt they could do about it and what they felt they couldn’t. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do.

Even if it’s too late for the Hawks player known as John Doe. And for that intern. And for the high school player in Houghton, Michigan, where Aldrich was able to work in 2013 because of a despicable cover-up.

JUST SAYIN’

The biggest star of this World Series: Astros manager Dusty Baker. The 72-year-old’s pursuit of his first championship since he was in left field for the Dodgers in 1981 is both compelling and sentimental.

But the best story just might belong to Braves manager Brian Snitker. Who? Exactly.

Snitker, 66, an Illinoisan who wasn’t any sort of prospect when his tiny Macon high school (enrollment: 250) made it to the 1971 state title game — beating Lane Tech (enrollment: 5,200) in a semifinal — has been in the Braves organization since 1977. He made it to the Show twice as a bullpen coach and once as a third-base coach, but each time he was reassigned to minor-league positions. He endured crippling pay cuts, non-stop moves with his family and nothing but one-year contracts. He lived in his daughter’s basement when he finally became a big-league manager, albeit an interim one, at 60.

As the Braves searched for someone with more big-league experience to take the reins from Snitker, the team’s veterans waged a fight behind closed doors for their guy. So Snitker got yet another one-year contract for 2017. Inch by inch, he has made it big. Look at him now.

• State of Illinois football rankings, current edition: 1. Northern Illinois, 2. Southern Illinois, 3. Illinois, 4. Northwestern, 5. Bears.

But seriously. NIU — winless last season — is 6-2 overall and the only unbeaten team in Mid-American Conference play. And get a load of SIU, 6-1 and ranked No. 3 in the Football Championship Subdivision.

“Shame on you,” wrote an emailer because I haven’t shown any love to the Salukis. Then again, this same emailer ripped my opinion that Baker belongs — win or lose this World Series — in the Hall of Fame. So he was only half-right.

• On second thought, are the Bears too high at No. 5? Loyola Academy up in Wilmette is looking mighty tough.

Latest Category Posts