Kevin Cheveldayoff made sure to protect himself. On July 22, 2021 Kevin Cheveldayoff said he did not know about the allegations made by an unnamed player for the Chicago Blackhawks that video coach Brad Aldrich had sexually assaulted the player until right before Aldrich was allowed to quietly resign. This has been proven false in the release of findings from an independent investigation into the handling of the reporting of the assault. You can read the full report at your own volition, but warning that it obviously covers the reporting, and cover up, of multiple sexual assaults.
There are times when inaction is understandable, but this is not one of those times. How the Winnipeg Jets handle Kevin Cheveldayoff now will go a long way in telling us how they see themselves as a team. It is imperative that the Winnipeg Jets act decisively because they currently have a general manager who aided in a coverup of sexual assault. That is simply unacceptable and should render someone unemployable for the near future until they are properly investigated and punished, which should include a ban from the sport.
Cheveldayoff’s initial statement was written in a way to make it seem like he only knew at the end, after others had been told. But he was in the room when the meeting happened. This was the meeting that Paul Vincent disclosed the assault to the higher ups in the organization including the previously unnamed Kevin Cheveldayoff and Joel Quenneville. Cheveldayoff’s response to this revelation was to stick to the lawyerly statement that he only knew of the allegations just prior to Aldrich leaving the organization.
This puts the Jets in a very interesting situation. Earlier this year, I wrote about knowing, but not knowing something. Today we found out that Cheveldayoff knew. And because he knew, it changes the potential response. In July I stated that Cheveldayoff does not have the most blood on his hands because it appeared that he did not have direct knowledge of the incident. That has changed now. Responses must be viewed differently when armed with the knowledge that Cheveldayoff was in the room when when Vincent informed upper management about the assault and that is where the response has to change.
So where does this leave the Jets? Honestly, I do not know how you can be seen as a leader in something when you do not take responsibility for your actions. As I stated in July, Cheveldayoff was not the one with power in that meeting. His knowledge was valuable and he did not speak up. He is not the guiltiest nor is he the least guilty of people in Chicago. So what should the Jets do with Cheveldayoff?
They should put him on paid leave until he meets with Gary Bettman. After that, the NHL and Winnipeg Jets can decide what is the best course of action going forward. I think this is best left in former court reporter and current Jets reporter Mike McIntyre who noted how after years of covering the court system, he started seeing the cases in shades of grey where there were rarely any easy answers to the cases because of complexities like power structures at play.
My knee-jerk reaction was to fire Cheveldayoff. My current reaction is to suspend him and let him meet with Bettman before moving forward either with or without Cheveldayoff.