Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff will not face punishment from the NHL for his role in the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal, the league has announced.
In a statement released by the NHL on Friday morning, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman absolved Cheveldayoff, who served as the Blackhawks assistant general manager during their Stanley Cup win in 2010, of responsibility stemming from a decade-long cover-up of the alleged sexual abuse of former Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach at the hands of then-video coach Brad Aldrich.
“While on some level, it would be easiest to paint everyone with any association to this terrible matter with the same broad brush, I believe that fundamental fairness requires a more in-depth analysis of the role of each person,” Bettman said in the release. “Kevin Cheveldayoff was not a member of the Blackhawks senior leadership team in 2010, and I cannot, therefore, assign to him responsibility for the Club’s actions, or inactions. He provided a full account of his degree of involvement in the matter, which was limited exclusively to his attendance at a single meeting, and I found him to be extremely forthcoming and credible in our discussion.”
Cheveldayoff is the only man in the room on May 23, 2010, where details emerged about the allegations against Aldrich, that remains in the NHL.
On Tuesday, law firm Jenner & Brock LLP release their 107-page report on their findings after a four-month investigation into the Blackhawks.
That report, which concluded that the team did nothing to help the victim at the time, placed Cheveldayoff in the room when some details were shared.
In Friday’s verdict, the league said that Cheveldayoff’s participation in that meeting was “extremely limited in scope and substance.”
“In fact, in the course of the investigation, most of the participants in the May 23 meeting did not initially recall that Cheveldayoff was even present,” the release said.
The Jets are not expected to discipline Cheveldayoff in-house. Earlier this week, Jets governor and co-owner Mark Chipman threw his support behind the GM and accompanied Cheveldayoff to New York City for Friday’s meeting.
Cheveldayoff nor Chipman was made available to the media on Friday, but the former released a statement on social media.
“First and most importantly, I want to express my support of and empathy for Kyle Beach and all he has had to ensure since 2010,” Cheveldayoff said. “He was incredibly brave coming forward to tell his story. We can all use his courage as an inspiration to do a better job of making hockey a safe space for any who wants to play the game.
“Further, I want to express my gratitude to the National Hockey League for the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Gary Bettman, in person, and directly share my role in and recollection of events while I was Assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010.”
The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million on Tuesday for the “organization’s inadequate internal procedures and insufficient and untimely response in the handling of matters related to former video coach Brad Aldrich’s employment with the Club and ultimate departure in 2010.”
Stan Bowman, general manager and president of hockey operations with the Blackhawks, and Al MacIsaac, senior vice-president of hockey operations, resigned Tuesday as well after the report was made public.
A number of other members of the team’s management were also implicated in failing to address the allegations.
Former federal prosecutor Reid Schar, who ran the investigation, wrote in the report that Cheveldayoff, along with Bowman, MacIsaac, then-head coach John Quenneville, former team president John McDonough and former executive vice president Jay Blunk met with mental skills coach Jim Gary to discuss the allegations during Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers.
Chicago would win the series, and the Cup, in six games.
Quenneville and Cheveldayoff were both single out in Bettman’s release on Tuesday, with the commissioner saying he would reserve judgement on both men prior to meetings with them.
Quenneville’s meeting happened on Thursday afternoon, and by the evening he had resigned from his post as the head coach of the Florida Panthers.
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