Columnist image
Rick Westhead

TSN Senior Correspondent

|Archive

Content Warning: The following article contains references to sexual assault.

A former Chicago Blackhawks player who alleges a team video coach sexually assaulted him and a teammate in 2010 says he has told his family about the abuse and is still struggling 11 years later with its long-term effects.

“Every day is a work in progress,” the player wrote in an email to TSN. “It comes when I wake up and much worse when trying to fall asleep, especially in light of all the activity now. I have not come to terms with it. It is ongoing. I don’t think I will ever fully come to terms with it.”

TSN received a number of comments sent by the player through his attorney on Monday morning. The remarks came in response to questions TSN sent on Friday.

The player’s answers were sent before The Athletic website reported that the Blackhawks have commissioned an independent investigation into allegations that former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich sexually abused two players during the 2009-10 season, and that Blackhawks management at the time allegedly refused to go to police to file a complaint.

TSN has identified the players who were allegedly abused by Aldrich but has a policy of not naming victims of sexual abuse without their permission. In court documents the player is referred to as “John Doe 1.”

A second lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks alleges that the team provided Aldrich with a job reference after he left the Blackhawks in 2010, which he used to secure future jobs in the hockey world. In 2013, he was convicted of sexually assaulting a then-17-year-old high school hockey player in Houghton, Mich.

The Blackhawks have asked a court to dismiss the cases because they were not filed within the appropriate limitation period.

The former Blackhawks player told TSN that he has a message to any other players who have been victims of Aldrich but are afraid to come forward.

“I would tell them that it’s very hard to deal with the pain of coming out with what happened,” the player wrote. “But the minute you come out, the healing begins. It’s very uplifting to know how much support I’m getting from the public and other players.”

The player said he wasn’t sure what he would say to Aldrich today if he were sitting across a table from him.

“That question is too hard to answer,” the player wrote. “Obviously, it is an illness and I hope he heals for his sake and everyone else.”

Susan Loggans, an attorney for the former Blackhawks player, said she welcomed news of an independent investigation but said she found it curious that the team was seeking to dismiss her client’s lawsuit on a technicality.

“They don’t have to try to have our case dismissed because of a statute of limitations,” Loggans said. “If they wanted to do the right thing, they could acknowledge that something wrong has occurred, it’s been covered up for 10 years and say that it’s time to do the right thing.”

“John Doe 1” is seeking $150,000 in his lawsuit. Loggans, however, said that figure is a placeholder and that lawyers can only suggest award damages to juries. She said this case is likely worth at least $10 million.

On Friday, Loggans asked a judge to order the Blackhawks to produce emails, meeting notes, and other records related to her client’s alleged abuse.

Among her requests: “Personnel files relating to Bradley Aldrich, including any letters of reference or recommendation” and, “Any emails phone messages memos or other interoffice communications regarding Bradley Aldrich between or among the defendant, the Blackhawks, employers, management employers, and/or executives.”

While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has not publicly addressed the Blackhawks abuse allegations, he is scheduled to hold a media conference later this afternoon ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.