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NHL reinstates Bowman, Quenneville after being banned for their role in Blackhawks assault scandal

The NHL lifted its ban on longtime coach Joel Quenneville and executives Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac on Monday, clearing the way for their return to the league more than two years after they were punished in the fallout from the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault scandal.

Bowman, MacIsaac and Quenneville can sign contracts with an NHL team after July 10.

“For more than the last two and a half years, these individuals have been ineligible to work for any NHL team as a result of their inadequate response upon being informed in 2010 of allegations that Blackhawks’ player Kyle Beach had been assaulted by the club’s video coach,” the league said, “While it is clear that, at the time, their responses were unacceptable, each of these three individuals ... has acknowledged that and used his time away from the game to engage in activities which not only demonstrate sincere remorse for what happened, but also evidence greater awareness of the responsibilities that all NHL personnel have, particularly personnel who are in positions of leadership.”

The scandal rocked the Blackhawks in October 2021 and had ripple effects across the league.

An independent investigation commissioned by the Blackhawks concluded that team officials mishandled allegations raised by Beach during the team's Stanley Cup run in 2010. Quenneville, the former Chicago coach and second on the all-time wins list to Scotty Bowman, resigned from his job as coach of the Florida Panthers.

Stan Bowman, Scotty's son and Chicago's general manager and hockey operations president, left his job as did top team executive MacIsaac. The league said each since “has made significant strides in personal improvement by participating in myriad programs, many of which focused on the imperative of responding in effective and meaningful ways to address alleged acts of abuse.”

Only one team, the Edmonton Oilers, has a current GM vacancy, after Ken Holland's contract was not renewed following a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. CEO of hockey operations Jeff Jackson on Monday was asked about Bowman as a candidate and said he has not really though about it.

“I mean, Stan’s obviously a long time GM, successful, and the NHL reinstated all three of the guys today,” Jackson said on a video call with reporters. “I’m running a bit on fumes here because of the schedule with the playoffs and then the draft, then free agency, so I haven’t given any of it any thought, to be honest. I’ve got to sort of decompress for a couple days, and then I’ve got to move forward with my GM search. To be honest, I can’t comment right now.”

The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million in the wake of the investigation, which was launched in response to two lawsuits filed against the franchise: one by a player identified as John Doe alleging sexual assault by then-video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010 and another filed by a former student whom Aldrich was convicted of assaulting in Michigan.

The report found no evidence that CEO Danny Wirtz or his father, Rocky, who owns the team, were aware of the allegations before the lawsuits. But the younger Wirtz said it was clear team executives had “put team performance above all else.”

Among other things, the scathing report found that in June 2010, after the team had won the Cup, Aldrich was given the option of resigning or being part of an investigation. Aldrich signed a separation agreement and no investigation was conducted. Aldrich received a severance and a playoff bonus, according to the report, and he was paid a salary “for several months.” He hosted the Stanley Cup for a day in his hometown.

The Blackhawks and Beach reached an undisclosed settlement in December 2021. The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, as Beach did.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL