An NHL Gamers Affiliation independently commissioned investigation has discovered no “particular person wrongdoing or institutional failures of coverage or process” by its govt director Donald Fehr or others of their dealing with of Kyle Seaside’s allegations of sexual assault in opposition to Chicago Blackhawks then-video coach Brad Aldrich in 2010.
The 20-page evaluate, shared by the NHLPA on its social media channels on Friday and created by Toronto-based regulation agency Cozen O’Connor, discovered there have been breakdowns in miscommunication and misunderstanding within the technique of the NHLPA’s dealing with of Seaside’s allegations, however concluded there was no proof of “any particular person or systemic failure.”
“After an intensive examination of the contemporaneous report,” Cozen O’Connor’s stated in its report, “the insurance policies and practices in place on the [players’] union on the time, and the recollections of every of the events to the contacts with the NHLPA or the SABH program, we can’t establish any particular person wrongdoing or institutional failures of coverage or process by both Fehr, NHLPA personnel, or the SABH program regarding the dealing with of Seaside’s reviews.”
Cozen O’Connor stated its evaluate into the union’s dealing with of Seaside’s allegations “included the evaluate of hundreds of emails, related telephone data, controlling paperwork and insurance policies for the SABH [Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health] program and NHL Hotline, and interviews with eleven people.” Nonetheless, each Seaside and an unidentified former Blackhawks participant who stated he had inappropriate conversations with Aldrich declined to be interviewed by Cozen O’Connor.
Every of the NHL’s 32 workforce participant representatives acquired a duplicate of the investigation earlier this week, and that group subsequently voted to make the findings public.
The investigation into the union’s position and the way it may have higher supported Seaside stems from his preliminary allegations he was sexually assaulted in the course of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs by Aldrich. The 32-year-old Seaside introduced a negligence lawsuit in opposition to Chicago final summer time, which was settled in December. Previous to that, the Blackhawks launched in October 2021 the findings of its unbiased investigation into Seaside’s allegations performed by the regulation agency Jenner & Block.
Contained in that report had been particulars regarding Fehr and his response to Seaside’s allegations on the time they had been levied. The NHLPA subsequently commissioned its personal inquiry into Fehr’s actions.
Cozen O’Connor acknowledged the core disputes from the NHLPA’s perspective had been “sharply conflicting accounts” supplied by Fehr and participant agent Bob Gurney surrounding a dialog they’d about Seaside’s allegations, and a dialog between Dr. Brian Shaw [a psychologist, and program administrator with the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program] and Seaside.
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Based on the agency, Gurney stated he referred to as Fehr in late December 2010 after Seaside advised him Aldrich had been employed as a video coach by USA Hockey in reference to a match that was being held later that 12 months. Fehr had not too long ago been appointed NHLPA Government Director, and Gurney felt he would wish to find out about Seaside’s considerations.
Gurney advised Cozen O’Connor’s investigators he described Aldrich as both a “pedophile” or “sexual predator” however didn’t inform Fehr any particulars of what had allegedly occurred between Seaside and Aldrich.
Fehr denied to investigators having any recollection of the decision, as he’s performed since Seaside’s allegations initially got here to gentle.
“Fehr, an skilled lawyer, repeatedly made the purpose that if Gurney had both described Aldrich as a pedophile or sexual predator or requested him to contact USA Hockey, he would have remembered it,” Cozen O’Connor detailed in its report. “Fehr is adamant that had the incident been so reported to him, he couldn’t, and wouldn’t, have taken — or agreed to take — any additional motion with out being supplied with extra particulars relating to the alleged incident, together with whether or not Seaside had reported — or was ready to report — the incident.”
An “exhaustive evaluate of everything of Fehr’s emails throughout the identical time interval” didn’t present any reference to a dialog with Gurney both. That prolonged to an additional evaluate of Fehr’s emails over the subsequent decade which didn’t present any tie into Gurney. Additionally, the report discovered that nobody who interacted every day with Fehr remembers him ever mentioning Gurney or Seaside on the time.
One incident within the Jenner & Block report that included Fehr associated to a different dialog between him and participant agent Joe Resnick. In an e-mail contained inside that investigation and dated April 18, 2011, Resnick advised Fehr he knew the manager director had been made conscious of “an incident” that concerned Seaside.
Within the Cozen O’Connor interview, Resnick “didn’t recall receiving any response to his e-mail, and none was present in our evaluate of Fehr’s emails.” Resnick additionally didn’t recall any follow-up dialog with Fehr.
“Fehr acknowledged to us — as he did within the Jenner Report — receiving the e-mail however had no recollection of it or following up with Resnick relating to the matter,” the report stated. “Likewise, Gurney additionally doesn’t recall any discussions with Fehr regarding Aldrich outdoors of his December 2010 name described within the Jenner Report.”
As for the dialog between Dr. Shaw and Seaside relating to whether or not USA Hockey was alerted to allegations surrounding Aldrich’s previous actions, Cozen O’Connor discovered it was a difficulty of miscommunication.
“All events concerned managed to stroll away from these interactions below some misapprehension,” the report acknowledged. “Gurney and Seaside walked away from their respective conversations believing that somebody…had agreed to take duty for contacting USA Hockey; Dr. Shaw thought that others, both the union or Seaside’s agent, would tackle Seaside’s considerations about USA Hockey and that he was certain to maintain what Seaside had advised him confidential; Resnick believed he was sharing a priority a few coach who was odd, bullying, and inappropriate, however not a sexual abuser.”
Cozen O’Connor concluded that given Fehr’s background as a lawyer, he would have recognized to behave upon critical allegations had they been communicated to him.
“Our conclusion,” the report continued, “is additional supported by the absence of any proof that Fehr both memorialized the dialog or mentioned it with anybody else affiliated with the NHLPA, together with his brother, Steven, who’s outdoors counsel to the NHLPA. This departure is totally at odds with Fehr’s documented observe of routinely and promptly tasking others to observe up on issues of a lot much less significance.”
Seaside had been overtly crucial of Fehr’s inaction since revealing himself because the case’s John Doe in an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead final October.
“I reported each single element to a person on the NHLPA, who I used to be put involved with after,” Seaside advised Westhead. “I consider two completely different folks talked to Don Fehr. And for him to show his again on the gamers when his one job is to guard the gamers in any respect prices, I don’t understand how that may be your chief. I don’t understand how he may be in cost. If that’s what he’s going to do when a participant involves you and tells you one thing, whether or not it’s abuse, whether or not it’s medication, whether or not it’s something, you’re speculated to have the gamers’ backs they usually positively didn’t have mine.”
On Oct. 28, 2021, Fehr launched his personal assertion relating to Seaside’s ordeal.
“Kyle Seaside has been by means of a horrific expertise and has proven true braveness in telling his story,” Fehr stated in October. “There isn’t a doubt that the system did not assist him in his time of want, and we’re a part of that system. “In his media interview, Mr. Seaside acknowledged that a number of months after the incident he advised somebody on the NHLPA the main points of what occurred to him. He’s referring to one of many program docs [Dr. Brian Shaw, a psychologist, and program administrator] with the NHL/NHLPA participant help program. Whereas this program is confidential between gamers and the docs, the grave nature of this incident ought to have resulted in additional motion on our half. The truth that it didn’t was a critical failure. I’m really sorry, and I’m dedicated to creating adjustments to make sure it doesn’t occur once more.”
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