Brad Aldrich brought home the Stanley Cup to northern Michigan. It was big news in a town that prides itself on being the birthplace professional hockey.
The Chicago Blackhawks’ former assistant coach raised the championship trophy above dozens of students as they watched. He promised them that if they worked hard they would achieve the same success in the fall 2010.
Three years later, Aldrich pleaded guilty for sexually assaulting a high school hockey player he had volunteered as a coach. Many in Houghton County were left with anger and embarrassment from the case.
The Blackhawks settled a pair of lawsuits alleging that the franchise covered for Aldrich in response to a similar allegation made by Kyle Beach in 2010. But the scandal lives on in Chicago and beyond.
“It’s one the biggest black eyes NHL history and it was because of a child from our home area,” stated Corey Markham (Houghton High School’s longest-serving hockey coach).
Houghton County is a place where hockey and community life are intertwined. Aldrich comes from one of the most prominent families in the county. Mike Aldrich was his father and was the equipment manager for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. His uncle was also a principal at Houghton and was an assistant hockey coach. Brad Aldrich was a youth hockey coach before joining the Blackhawks.
All of this was irrelevant in the end.
Markham stated that if we knew that, he wouldn’t have been working with high school students and other such things. “So it’s disappointing that they didn’t notify anyone.”
The AP tried unsuccessfully to reach Brad Aldrich (now 39), but was unsuccessful.
Aldrich left Chicago to work or volunteer for USA Hockey, Miami University, and the University of Notre Dame before returning home to Michigan.
Spokesmen from USA Hockey and Notre Dame claimed that they had not been made aware of any complaints regarding Aldrich. Miami was the next victim of trouble.
According to an independent report, Aldrich was employed at Miami for three weeks as a hockey camp director before being hired by the school in July 2012.
According to the report, Aldrich didn’t provide any references on his resume. Rico Blasi, then-coach, recalled that he received “favorable” information from Notre Dame coaches.
According to the law firm, Aldrich was accused of two sexual assaults in Miami. His resignation was prompted by the first incident, which occurred in November 2012. The second, filed in August 2018, was made by a former student who claimed that Aldrich had sexually assaulted him around the same time. Both allegations were not prosecuted.
Christopher Cortese, a Chicago lawyer representing the men, stated that the man who made the 2018 allegation was one of three people currently considering lawsuits against Blackhawks over their handling of the matter.
One former player with the Blackhawks’ team told investigators that he received two explicit texts messages from Aldrich in 2010 playoffs. Cortese claimed he also represented Paul Vincent, an ex-skills coach for the Blackhawks. He said that he encouraged the team to bring the allegations against Aldrich to the attention of the police. Vincent and the player claim they were blacklisted by Aldrich after their allegations were brought to the attention of the team, according to the lawyer.
Cortese said to the AP that his firm was preparing lawsuits and maintaining contact with the team. The AP left a message asking for comment from the Blackhawks, but they did not respond immediately. TSN first reported the potential litigation.
Blasi called a team meeting shortly after the initial allegation at Miami to announce that Aldrich had left.
He said that if you have his numbers, please delete them. Taylor Richart, a former Miami defenseman, stated that he is no longer part of the team.
Blasi, the current coach at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Bryon Paulazzo played for the Miami squad, and recalled Aldrich’s short tenure and mysterious exit. “This is a horrible situation, and it shouldn’t have happened.”
The hurtlingers in Houghton. It is a small, close-knit community that flows into Lake Superior from a bay.
Houghton is known for its hockey team. Dee Stadium is located on the downtown waterfront. It claims to be the place where professional hockey first began in the early 1900s. There’s also a hockey history museum that documents the sport’s roots. The nationally ranked Michigan Tech University men’s team draws more than 2,500 spectators to its games. It is located just a mile away.
John Ryynanen (a father of seven, 50 years old), said that it is like a religion. He grew up in the region.
“You can picture a small family like this. He said that something like this can happen, and it’s quite shocking.
Aldrich returned to home in September 2010 with the Blackhawks’ newly won championship trophy.
He told students at Hancock Central High School that success isn’t easy, but it’s also fun. They were located across a canal in Houghton. You can achieve success with hard work and dedication. This is the most important thing.
His uncle, a Houghton High assistant coach, approached Markham to ask if he would be interested in Brad Aldrich working with the players.
Aldrich, the younger, had been a substitute teacher at Northern Michigan University while he was a student. He also coached youth hockey teams. Before joining the Blackhawks, he had also worked as a video intern at San Jose’s NHL franchise.
Markham stated, “I knew Brad since he was little,” Markham added. “So I realized how amazing it would be for us to have a Stanley Cup-winning coach who’s going in town and will assist us.”
After his return, Brad Aldrich was arrested for sexually assaulting Houghton’s player after a party at which teens were drinking alcohol. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced for fourth-degree criminal sexual abuse.
According to the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association, Aldrich was a volunteer hockey coach for Marquette Junior Hockey Corp. between 2001 and 2005. MAHA stated that it has not received any reports or complaints about Aldrich’s misconduct.
An ex-Houghton player spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP because of the sensitive nature of the situation. He said that many people in the community just want to move on, pretend it didn’t happen, and it’s embarrassing.
The Blackhawks were sued by a lawyer who attributed some of the blame to the NHL franchise.
Attorney Susan Loggans wrote to the team, “The Blackhawks gave Mr. Aldrich a Stanley Cup to take to Houghton,” she said. “The Cup was inscribed by Mr. Aldrich. This communication alone demonstrates Mr. Aldrich’s ability to coach.
Aldrich was removed from the Cup’s list last year by Rocky Wirtz, Blackhawks owner. He wrote to Lanny McDonald (Hall of Fame chairman), describing Aldrich as “unforgivable” while pointing out that the team had made a mistake in submitting his name.
Blackhawks hired a law firm to find that franchise leaders mostly ignored Beach’s allegations. Aldrich claimed that the encounter was consensual.
Wirtz was angry to not address questions regarding the team’s handling on the sexual assault allegations.
He said , “We’re going not to talk about Kyle Beach.” “We won’t talk about any of that. We’re moving forward. What else do I need to say?
Wirtz, now 69, eventually apologized for his actions later that night.
Looking back, Michael Makinen (the Michigan prosecutor) still wonders about his community’s willingness and trust in Aldrich.
Makinen stated that “Leaving Chicago Blackhawks to become a volunteer coach in 35,000-person county doesn’t make any sense.”
“There are many locals who think our area is the most beautiful in the world. They will accept someone who says, “I want to move here because the lifestyle is so great.” “I’m slightly more skeptical in my situation.