After a long week full of news, breaking stories, and emotional turmoil, fans of the NHL have been looking forward and wondering what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly would have to say about the Blackhawks, Kyle Beach, and the rest of the scandal. We have finally got our answer.
Bettman opened the press conferences with his sincerest apologies to Kyle Beach and the trauma that he has suffered over the last decade. Bettman has previously apologized to Beach personally, Bettman extended resources to Beach and his family to seek counseling on behalf of the league on their dime for as long as he/them should need it.
Bettman followed up with statements onto the Chicago Blackhawks. He admits that the ownership of the team didn’t have any knowledge of the incident, it did not make it that far into the management chain of the organization, however, the Blackhawks bore responsibility.
Bettman/Daly both reiterated that the league did not know about the incident until just prior to the cases being filed against the Blackhawks, the Blackhawks legal team had advised the league of the suits being filed. Bettman doubled down on the $2 million fine for the Blackhawks by saying “And it was also a message to the rest of the league that you need to make sure your organization is functioning properly on these matters.”
Bettman also touched on Quenneville and Cheveldayoff briefly before finishing with the NHL policies. When referring to Quenneville, Bettman said “I knew I had to have Joel come in, and I had to have a very candid conversation with him. He was entitled to due process in terms of letting me hear from him directly and judge his credibility,” Bettman said. “We were dealing with something that was 11 years previous. He had been on the bench for the past 876 games, and I didn’t want him to feel that he was being prejudged in any respect. So, really, while it may have optically not been the best look, I was more concerned with the substance than the look.”
This is the worst statement out of the entire press conference.
Everyone had been shocked when Cheveldayoff was cleared of any wrongdoing by Bettman earlier this week and returned to his position as general manager of the Winnipeg Jets. Bettman helped contextualize this with “I believe based on what was available to Kevin and what he did and did not know that he had no responsibility for this,” Bettman said. “It wasn’t a question about speaking up. It’s not a question of values. You can’t speak up and be focused on values on things you don’t know about. He didn’t know and he didn’t have access to the information. What he did know led him to believe that it was being dealt with appropriately.”
Whether believed or not, Cheveldayoff has been a general manager in the NHL for over a decade and had a basic knowledge of the situation, yet still pursued it no further. Bettman also reiterated the statement from Bowman that Cheveldayoff was under the impression that his bosses within the organization (McDonough) were handling the situation.
The light at the end of the tunnel
While this story has been mostly negative, the two things we can take from this are the league being more open and aware about situations such as Beach’s and the NHL hotline being extended to all facets of hockey.
The NHL Hotline will now be utilized across all of North America – including colleges, major junior, and minor hockey leagues. Hopes are this will give all leagues an avenue to report issues and get the assistance they need. Becoming a topic that can be reported and talked about without shame or fear is a common goal for all parties involved, this is a major step toward that goal.
Relentless effort and knowledge will continue to achieve this goal for years to come.