Sopel: 'Pretty much every' Blackhawks player knew of allegations in 2010
Former NHL defenseman Brent Sopel said Tuesday that most of his Chicago Blackhawks teammates were aware of sexual assault allegations against former video coach Brad Aldrich during the team's 2010 Stanley Cup run.
An unnamed former Chicago player sued the Blackhawks in May, saying that Aldrich had sexually assaulted the player and a teammate. Then-skills coach Paul Vincent said the two players informed him around the time of the 2010 Western Conference Final. Former Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti said in June that team management met at the time to discuss the matter but never brought it to police.
According to Sopel, players discussed the topic in the dressing room during the playoff run that culminated in the first of three Blackhawks championships in six seasons.
"I'd say pretty much every player said, 'Holy shit' and was shocked by it," Sopel told TSN's Rick Westhead. "We were all in the same dressing room. It was something that was discussed for at least two or three days. (Then-head coach Joel) Quenneville was in the same office as (Aldrich). We heard about it."
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said in June he was "annoyed" after an anonymous former Blackhawks player told The Athletic that "every single guy on the team knew." Toews added that he didn't believe the statement was accurate.
Quenneville, now the head coach of the Florida Panthers, told Westhead on Tuesday that he didn't find out about the alleged sexual assaults until this summer.
The Blackhawks announced following Torchetti's comments that they've hired a former federal prosecutor to lead a team-financed, independent review of the matter.
Sopel is calling on those who were with the team at the time to speak truthfully.
"I understand doing the right thing is hard," he said. "A lot of those guys who were on the 2009-10 team are still with the Blackhawks getting paid, and they're either still playing or in broadcasting or coaching, management, or scouting, or being an ambassador for the team. That's why they're not saying anything.
"Guys want to protect their jobs. But they should still be doing the right thing and telling the truth publicly about what happened."
Sopel played three seasons with the Blackhawks, the last being the 2010 championship campaign. He also spent time with the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, and Atlanta Thrashers over a 12-year NHL career.