Gary Bettman under scrutiny defends NHL’s decisions related to Blackhawks scandal

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Monday defended the league’s decisions following an investigation into the Chicago Blackhawks’ handling of sexual assault allegations made by former player Kyle Beach.

In his first public comments since the report of the Blackhawks’ probe was released, Bettman labeled the $2 million fine to the team as “significant.” The punishment stemmed from the allegations of abuse involving former video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.

Bettman on Quenneville and Cheveldayoff

Bettman also addressed whether then-Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was presented with an ultimatum to step down as the bench boss of the Florida Panthers.

“Joel ultimately (concluded) that the most sensible course of action was for him to resign,” Bettman said.

“Should he have coached on Wednesday night?” Commissioner Bettman said. “I suppose people can differ on that point, and I understand that. But he had already coached 867 games since 2010, and I wanted to make sure that no one, including Coach Quenneville, could say that I had prejudged him. Again, people can disagree on this, but I was focused on the long term, not that one game. … I was more concerned with the substance than the look.”

Bettman also discussed the decision against disciplining Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff, who the commissioner labeled “a minor player in (the situation).”

Cheveldayoff was the assistant general manager of the Blackhawks during the 2009-10 season.

Per the NHL on Friday, Cheveldayoff’s participation at the May 23, 2010, meeting in which he reportedly was made aware of claims by Beach that he was sexually assaulted by Aldrich “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 NHL determined at that time that Cheveldayoff was the lowest-ranked person in the room and was learning of the subject matter for the first time in the presence of then-Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, then-CEO John McDonough and Quenneville. The league deemed that Cheveldayoff, in the presence of his superiors, believed the matter was going to be investigated.

Bettman spoke with Kyle Beach

Gary Bettman Kyle Beach
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bettman also shared a bit of what he discussed with Beach on Saturday.

“We discussed the path forward with him involved in efforts to confront abuse,” Bettman said. “We also offered to him, and his family, our resources for counseling. While the NHL hotline is principally intended for NHL personnel, we think that it’s important that everyone in hockey have an outlet for health.

“There are many organizations that have expertise to deal with victims of abuse. Accordingly, we intended to use our resources to engage in a worldwide effort to create a network of those organizations to make available to the hockey community.”

–Field Level Media