Reports surfaced on Thursday that Blackhawks President of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman will speak to the media. This, in wake of the allegations surrounding the team, will be the first time Bowman speaks since the allegations arose earlier this summer.
Earlier this summer, reports surfaced regarding former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich sexually assaulting two former Chicago Blackhawks players. In addition, the Blackhawks did nothing about it and allowed Aldrich to later work with children. He had another sexual assault incident in 2013 and is now a registered sex offender for the incident.
In addition, to make matters worse, the front office reportedly knew of the incident, only to brush it under the rug and not do anything about it. Even the players claimed they knew about what happened back in 2010.
How will Bowman go about addressing the allegations? He, and the organization as a whole, have not spoken on the event in any capacity. Even the social media account, which Elliotte Friedman called out in a recent article, has not posted anything of substance even acknowledging the incidents and allegations.
To further update readers, as of July 9, the Blackhawks filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit against them for the acts of Brad Aldrich. Whether or not its right or wrong, the general public doesn't know. However, it certainly adds to the complexity of the allegations.
Let's address the situation at hand. There are two ways Stan Bowman and company can go about this. One is more likely than the other, but both should be discussed.
The Right Thing To Do
The right thing to do would be to address the situation head on. Does this mean Bowman throws himself and the front office under the bus for knowing? Probably not. That said, addressing the situation, acknowledging the ongoing investigation, and noting that the Blackhawks front office will cooperate with the investigation is the right way to handle it.
Truthfully, the general public may never know everything that happened, has happened, and will happen with the team. That said, a public address of what is going on is needed from the Blackhawks. There has been little public-facing speak discussing what is going on. It has all been reports and rumors rather than directly from the horse's mouth, per se.
That's what Bowman should do. Without getting into what the repercussions should be for the front office members who didn't speak up, the situation at least has to be acknowledged. There has been minimal address of the situation, as mentioned, and that simply cannot be the case. These allegations are too serious to just be treated as some little gnat to the greater organization. Sexual assault is a major allegation, and no matter the outcome of the investigation, something of this magnitude should be taken seriously.
What Will Likely Happen
Unfortunately, with intentions of only speaking on the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and Expansion Draft, Bowman will likely avoid any questions about the allegations. Any questions regarding said allegations will be met with a "no comment" or some other political answer. That means fans will continue wanting some type of address about the situation, but will receive further silence.
Most organizations in professional sports have not handled the public angle on instances like these well. The track record is there. That said, the Blackhawks should aim to be above the rest and attack the situation head on. Again, until the investigation is finished, there won't be any answers. But, addressing the situation for what it is is certainly a step in the right direction as a franchise.
Bowman will address the drafts, as mentioned, and that will be the end of it. Some reporters may speak up and ask about the ongoing situation, but there questions will be asked without answer. However, with Mark Kelley also speaking on Thursday, the intent is to speak exclusively about the aforementioned drafts.
Whether or not the Blackhawks fan base learns anymore about the situation from the team itself remains to be seen. However, at least acknowledging what's going on and how it's being handled would be huge for the public image of the team. It's safe to say that people's expectations are low for the amount of information that would be shared, but some type of update, acknowledgement, or statement at minimum would be better than silence.
This case should be taken seriously. If the Blackhawks truly believe they are a model organization, then it will be. That said, Rocky Wirtz might have some big decisions on his hands if the investigation reveals a lot of wrongdoing from those within the organization.