For the first time since last week’s news, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly spoke publicly during a press conference on Monday.
One of the early questions focused on former Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was behind Chicago’s bench in 2010 but was the Florida Panthers coach this season until last week’s events. After Tuesday’s revelation of the internal investigation launched by the Blackhawks, Quenneville was still behind the bench for Florida during a game on Wednesday night, a move that drew extensive criticism:
Gary Bettman on letting Joel Quenneville coach on Wednesday: "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. People can disagree on this."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 1, 2021
One new detail emerged on Monday, related to the knowledge of the lawsuits that entered the public domain this summer. According to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, that was not the first time the Blackhawks organization — and the league — was familiar with them:
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says the league was given a "heads up" in late December by the Blackhawks' lawyer about a potential legal situation and that the NHL was assured that there was "nothing there."— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 1, 2021
Bettman also pushed back on some external criticism against the league that the $2 million fine levied against the Blackhawks was not enough of a penalty:
Pointed out to Gary Bettman that while Blackhawks fined $2M for abuse coverup, Arizona Coyotes lost draft picks over improperly working out a prospect and that NJ Devils were fined $3M for a salary cap violation.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 1, 2021
Bettman: “Different context, different facts.”
One of the more interesting exchanges came in Bettman’s reply to a question from Blackhawks beat reporter Mark Lazerus of The Athletic:
2/2 Bettman: "I was very surprised when I read the report and how it focused on John McDonough. And my guess is, and I'm not trying to push this back, you have been close tot he club and you have a lot of interaction with John McDonough, and I assume you're as surprised as I am."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) November 1, 2021
As Lazerus noted on Twitter, he — along with the vast majority (and likely all) of the team’s current beat reporters — was not covering the team in 2010.
After some early dodging of TSN reporter Rick Westhead, who’s been one of the leading journalists covering this entire situation, Bettman answered a question from Westhead after one of the other reporters on the call requested that Westhead be granted the ability to ask one:
Brad Aldrich was sentenced to nine months in jail in 2014 for abusing John Doe 2, the former high school player. Aldrich a registered sex offender.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 1, 2021
Gary Bettman says he needs more info before committing NHL to care for JD2.
Take a sec and imagine you are JD2 hearing this comment.
There was also the subject of former Blackhawks prospect Akim Aliu, who alleged that former Rockford IceHogs coach Bill Peters targeted him with racial language while the two were together in Rockford. While Daly claimed that they’ve completed their investigation and reached to Aliu’s representatives, TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported a dispute with Daly’s claim:
When asked, Bill Daly said the Bill Peters "investigation is done," as we approach two full calendar years since @Dreamer_Aliu78 brought Peters' racist language to light. Daly said NHL has contacted Aliu's representative for "next steps, if any."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) November 1, 2021
Aliu's rep today: "News to me."
Here’s one more comment from Monday’s press conference:
Gary Bettman: "Hockey culture does not encourage, but in fact prohibits this type of activity."— Taylor Haase (@TaylorHaasePGH) November 1, 2021