Blackhawks’ Rocky Wirtz furiously slams reporters for asking about Beach scandal

Publisher’s Note: The following story is about sexual assault and may be disturbing or offensive to some readers. If you or someone you know needs support in Canada, you can find provincial centers, hotlines and services here. For readers in America, here is a list of resources and references for survivors and their families.

Chicago Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz angrily berated reporters who tried to field questions about the team’s response to the sexual assault scandal that rocked the organization last year, saying it was “none of your business,” how the team learn from the past.

The two incidents happened during a town hall hosted by the Blackhawks, where the organization updated fans and media on their direction and the search for a new general manager.

In a statement released hours after the event ended, Wirtz apologized for his behavior and admitted he “crossed the line”.

“I want to apologize to the fans and to these reporters, and I regret that my response overshadowed the great work this organization is doing to move forward,” the statement read. “We have the right leaders and the right processes in place to create a safe environment for our employees and players.”

About halfway through the event, a reporter spoke up the athlete tries to ask Wirtz a question about what the Blackhawks are doing to make sure what happened to Kyle Beach doesn’t happen to anyone else.

“I think the report speaks for itself. The people who were involved are no longer here. We’re not looking back at 2010, we’re looking ahead. And we’re not going to talk about 2010,” Wirtz told the Jenner & Block report, which was released last fall and highlighted a number of mistakes made by the Blackhawks after a former player — Beach — reported that he was told by then-video coach Brad Aldrich was sexually assaulted during the team’s 2010 Stanley Cup run.

After a brief follow-up from the reporter, Wirtz repeated himself and said: “We’re moving forward, that’s my response. Now what’s your next question?”

Wirtz’ son Danny, who was the CEO of the Blackhawks and also part of the panel, then spoke up and said, “I can relate to what we’re doing today,” but was interrupted by his father, who said, “No, that’s not one of your company” while pointing it out to the crowd.

“What we’re going to do today is our business, I don’t think it’s any of your business,” Senior Wirtz told the reporter. When asked why, Wirtz replied, “Because I don’t think it’s any of your business. You don’t work for the company.”

“If someone in the company asks this question, we will answer it,” Wirtz continues. “And I think you should move on to the next subject. We’re not going to talk about Kyle Beach, we’re not going to talk about anything that happened. Now moving on, what else do I have to say “Do you want to keep asking the same question and hearing the same answer?”

A few minutes later, a second reporter arrives from the ChicagoTribune tried asking the same question the athlete reporter asked.

“I told you to get off topic,” Wirtz replied. “We won’t be bringing up the report… I told you we’re going ahead. I think it’s not your turn to ask this series of questions. Why don’t you ask for something else? Why don’t you ask for the GM search? Why don’t you do something else? Why are you bringing up old stuff?”

the tribune The reporter then attempted to ask a question about season ticket holders and the ticket resale market, but Wirtz cut him off before completing his question.

“I didn’t know you were in our ticket department,” Wirtz said. “Come on, come on. Let’s talk about all the negative stuff. Do you want to talk about your newspaper? And what the sports page looks like. Can I do this?”

The Blackhawks were served with two lawsuits in May 2021 — one by Beach and one by an unnamed John Doe — accusing the organization of failing to take the allegations against Aldrich seriously, which resulted in him being allowed to remain in the community and cause harm Other. In June 2021, the team hired the law firm Jenner & Block to conduct a full investigation, and a report was released on October 26. The report – which was transcribed after 139 interviews, 100 gigabytes of electronic documents and 49 boxes of paper documents were reviewed – showed that senior members of the Blackhawks failed to act in a timely manner when faced with allegations that Aldrich Beach – who was a player at the time was on the team – had sexually assaulted.

After the report was released, general manager Stan Bowman and hockey operations executive Al MacIsaac resigned from their posts, while Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville — who was the Blackhawks coach at the time — also resigned.

“It is clear that at the time the organization and its leaders were not living up to our own standards or values ​​in dealing with these disturbing incidents,” the team said in a letter released immediately after the report’s release. “We deeply regret the damage caused to John Doe and the other affected individuals and the failure to respond promptly. As an organization, we deeply apologize to the individuals who have suffered from these experiences. We must – and will – do better.”

Wirtz’s outburst drew harsh criticism from around the hockey world, including Wayne Gretzky when he spoke on TNT during a break.

“From every point of view, this is just a horrible scenario, a horrible situation what happened to this young man,” Gretzky said. “But I’m sitting here and I think as a parent you’re sitting here and you’re like, ‘My son is 18, he might get drafted by this team … I want to know my 18-year-old son will be protected.'”

The NHL fined the Blackhawks $2 million after the report was released. The team settled its lawsuit with Beach in arbitration on December 15 for an undisclosed amount.

In the months since the report’s findings were released, the team has searched for a new general manager to lead a new era after Bowman – who has held the role for more than a decade. On Monday, the team announced that three former players – Eddie Olczyk, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp – would be helping in this search.

Olczyk moderated Wednesday’s event and posed a few questions to the panel on behalf of the fans. One of these questions for Danny Wirtz was what he wants from the next managing director.

“It is clear that we need a better defined plan and a better way forward,” said the younger Wirtz. “A lot of the plan for that is being set by this general manager. We talked a lot about the structure: do you want to appoint a president? Do you want to use a GM? And when it comes down to it, for me it’s clearly about accountability.”

About Ellen Lewandowski

Check Also

European Midday Briefing: Miners, Oil Majors Help Lift Stocks; Energy crisis debated

MARKET WRAPS Stocks: European stocks posted solid gains on Friday, with investor attention remaining focused …