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Rick Westhead

TSN Senior Correspondent

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Editor’s note: After publication of this story earlier today, John Torchetti contacted TSN to say his recollection is that Paul Vincent told him that he advised the Blackhawks management during a May 2010 meeting they should go to police over allegations of sexual abuse. Torchetti said he does not remember Vincent telling him that the team refused to do so, as was reported in the original story. The story below has been amended to reflect this.

A former Chicago Blackhawks associate coach has confirmed that a meeting took place during the 2010 NHL playoffs in which the team’s management discussed the alleged sexual assault of two Blackhawks players.

John Torchetti, who was an associate coach with the Blackhawks from 2007 to 2010, said that he remembers then-Blackhawks skills coach Paul Vincent telling him about what the players had confided in him, and what had happened after Vincent brought those allegations to management.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing when Paul told me what the players had said to him,” Torchetti said in an interview with TSN on Friday.

“We talked about it and he said, with the players’ permission, he had to go and take this to management to be dealt with.”

Torchetti said Vincent told him after that “all the brass” were in the meeting.

Last month, a former Blackhawks player who is not identified in court records filed a lawsuit against the team alleging that he and a teammate had been sexually assaulted by Bradley Aldrich, a former team video coach who no longer is with the organization. The player alleged that after he shared news of the assaults with a team sports psychologist, he was told the incident was his fault. 

A second lawsuit filed against the Blackhawks by a former high school hockey player in Michigan alleges that after learning of the allegations against Aldrich, the NHL team allowed him to remain on staff through the summer of 2010 and then gave him a positive job reference, which allowed him to coach with a high school team in Houghton, Mich., where Aldrich sexually assaulted the then-17-year-old player.

Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in prison and probation for 60 months. Court records show he was tested for HIV and completed probation Feb. 13, 2019.

Vincent told TSN in an interview that the two Blackhawks players told him of their abuse on or about May 16, 2010, before Game 1 of the Western Conference finals in San Jose. Vincent said he asked team sports psychologist James Gary to follow up.

Vincent said a day later he was called into a meeting at the team hotel in San Jose with team president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman, vice-president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac, and Gary. Vincent said he asked the team executives to go to the sex crimes unit of the Chicago police department. Vincent said they refused.

The Blackhawks have not commented on that specific allegation and have asked a court to dismiss the lawsuits because they were not filed within the appropriate limitation period.

“It’s so upsetting, it’s so glaring, because of what this guy was able to do after he left the Blackhawks,” Torchetti said. “You have to know what kind of guy Paul Vincent is. This guy is loyal to a fault, the most loyal guy you are going to meet in the game. His background helps explain why he gets so upset about issues like abuse.”

Vincent, 74, was a police officer in Beverly, Mass., from 1972 to 1982. He told TSN that after he and his late wife, Sylvia, had trouble having children, they decided to adopt five children through Catholic charities in the Boston area. Some of those kids came from troubled homes, he said.

“After Paul came forward, he told me he felt so much better that this would be addressed, but then it wasn’t,” Torchetti said. “The guys on that Blackhawks team trusted him. He was like a ‘coach dad’ to them. Paul would be the one who told the other guys on the coaching staff what was going on with players and how we should approach them. I know that must have been very hard for him.”

While several survivors groups have called for the NHL to commission an independent investigation into how the Blackhawks handled the abuse complaint, the league has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was quoted in a story published Friday by The Athletic that the NHL had been in contact with the Blackhawks but that no investigation was underway. Daly did not respond to a question about what it would take to trigger an investigation, the website reported.

Meantime, more details about Aldrich’s history continue to trickle out. 

An unnamed Blackhawks player from the 2009-10 team told The Athletic that all of the players were aware of Aldrich’s alleged assault. 
“Every guy on the team knew about it,” the player said. “Every single guy on the team knew.”

After Aldrich left the Blackhawks in 2010, he worked for Miami University in Ohio as director of hockey operations. He left after allegations of unwanted sexual touching, according to police records obtained by TSN. Miami has commissioned an internal investigation into Aldrich’s time at the school. 

After attending Northern Michigan University, Aldrich coached a Bantam Triple-A hockey team in Marquette, Mich., before working as a video coach for the University of Notre Dame.

A Notre Dame spokesman wrote in an emailed statement that there had been no complaints at the school against Aldrich. The spokesman did not respond to questions about whether Notre Dame would hire an independent investigator.

TSN has also spoken with a parent whose son played on the Marquette Electricians, the travel team made up of 14- and 15-year-olds where Aldrich coached after graduation.

One parent on the team recalls Aldrich coached for three seasons. 

“I definitely had concerns right away that this guy was having players over to his apartment and getting too close to them,” said the parent, who requested anonymity because he now works with an NCAA hockey program and was ordered not to speak to the media about Aldrich. “A hockey coach buying a kid a $300 golf driver is grooming. That’s what it is.

“I remember one time in the summer after his first season in Marquette, the team had a swim and barbecue party at a cabin on a lake and when the boys started wrestling, Brad jumped into it, but he wasn’t really wrestling. It looked so wrong. And yes, I did say something. But the people who ran the team told me to mind my business, and that I was crazy for saying that, and my kid wound up being bullied because of it. Aldrich stayed at least another season after that.”