Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz adamant franchise ‘not going to talk about Kyle Beach’
Chicago Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz has shut down questions about the fallout surrounding the Kyle Beach lawsuit that has dogged the organization for much of the past year.
During a town hall with fans on Wednesday, a reporter asked the assembled panel, which included Wirtz and Blackhawks CEO Danny Wirtz, how Chicago intended to avoid any power imbalance between players and coaches in the future, like the one Beach endured in 2010. Rocky Wirtz was heated in his responses and later apologized, through a team statement, for his response.
Beach, a former Blackhawks 2008 first-round draft pick, filed a lawsuit in May 2021 against Chicago alleging prolonged sexual assault by the team’s former video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010. An independent investigation by the law firm attorneys Jenner & Block concluded that “nothing was done” by senior executives to prevent the harassment Beach faced, and longtime general manager Stan Bowman and vice president of hockey operations Al MacIsaac said both resigned and others were fired because of what Jenner & Block found out.
The Blackhawks ultimately resolved their lawsuit with Beach in December via a confidential settlement.
In his heated exchange during Wednesday’s panel, Rocky Wirtz made it clear that he was unwilling to revisit the past.
“I think the report speaks for itself,” Wirtz said. “The people involved are gone. We’re not looking back to 2010, we’re looking forward. And we’re not going to talk about 2010.”
When pressed again to discuss the Blackhawks’ plans to protect players going forward, Wirtz doubled down again.
“What we’re going to do today is our business. I don’t think it’s your business,” Wirtz said. “Because I don’t think that’s your business. You don’t work for the company. If anyone in the company asks that question, we’ll answer it, and I think you should move on to the next topic. We are I won’t talk about Kyle Beach, we won’t talk about anything that happened.
“We’re moving on. Do you want to keep asking the same question? What more do I have to say? Do you want to hear the same answer? What’s your next question?”
Another reporter followed and asked why the Blackhawks promised transparency in the process of hiring a new GM, but declined to answer a question about Beach’s lawsuit.
“I answered [that question]says Wirtz. “I told you to get off topic. We are not going to talk about the report [on Beach]. We have read it. We are moving forward. I think you are out of place. I don’t like your questions. Why don’t you ask something else? Why don’t you ask about GM’s research? Or something else? Why are you bringing up old cases?”
Wirtz did not speak again for the remainder of the panel, which ended shortly after his second outburst. The Blackhawks hosted the Minnesota Wild later Wednesday, and during the game the team released a statement of apology from Wirtz.
“Tonight at the Chicago Blackhawks town hall, my answer to two questions crossed the line,” the statement read. “I want to apologize to the fans and to these journalists, and I regret that my response has overshadowed the great work this organization is doing moving forward. We have the right leadership and the right processes in place to create a safe environment for our employees and players.”
The Blackhawks are hiring a general manager to replace Bowman. Earlier in the evening, Danny Wirtz explained how it’s been going so far.
“There’s no right answer in terms of timing for these things,” he said of hiring Bowman’s successor. “We don’t do this every day. I think we gave ourselves some time to get it right. And no matter what was going to happen, we were going to hire a general manager not for the 2021-22 season but for the long term. We’re having a lot of conversations around structure…and we’re going to have clear accountability with our GM. I’m really excited about what the new leader will bring and build around them.
“We want our organization to be productive and get the job done.”