USA Hockey lawsuit sheds light on NHL sexual abuse failures

The University of Minnesota is facing a lawsuit for failing to process sexual abuse charges against a local youth trainer.
Photo: Getty Images

There is an inevitable, albeit sickening, symmetry in the news that comes out of the hockey world today. And there’s a good chance the NHL is trying to avoid commenting on anything, hiding behind the shield of “open litigation” as most organizations do. But it’s the silence and the hope that it will all go away that lands hockey, colleges and churches, and anyone else, in this kind of swamp every time.

We mentioned earlier today the trial targeting the Chicago Blackhawks. And the details are close to any you’ve read before. A player feels like he has been assaulted / mistreated / mistreated by a coach, so he goes to a team official to report it, and that official does his best to bury him. Stop him here and never let him go up the chain of command, where someone might have to make a real decision. Shame on the player if you have to get him out of here ASAP.

Meaning former Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich was free to go about his business, never feeling like the ax would fall. And then three years later, in 2014, he found himself on a Michigan sex offender list for involvement with a teenager. Would this have happened if the Hawks had quelled this behavior three years ago? This player seems to think so, which motivated his costume.

Meanwhile, staying in the Chicago area, six men pursue USA Hockey, the Illinois governing body of youth hockey, AHAI, and the University of Minnesota, claiming to have repeatedly ignored charges against youth coach Thomas “Chico” Adrahtas.

The costume stems from Katie Strang’s story in February 2020 in Athletic which detailed the charges against Adrahtas, and how he moved from job to job with only whispers and rumors of why he was still moving. He details how these children had nowhere to turn, as everyone above Adrahtas was looking to keep quiet or wipe out the story altogether before anyone had to make any serious decisions. All of this abuse took place almost 25 years ago, yet Adrahtas has been a coach for much longer than that.

It’s pretty amazing, if not so predictable, how these cases were handled, even though they were several years apart. A coach is accused by a player, be it a professional or a teenager, and everyone above that coach is just trying to figure out how to make him go away. And because of this, more potential victims are exposed to said monster. But everyone needs to keep their jobs on top of this coach a little longer, which seems to have been their only goal.

We’ve seen this outside of hockey hundreds of times, of course. LSU, Baylor, the Catholic Church… we could go on. Covering someone’s ass is taking more and more victims. And yet, it doesn’t seem to stop.

Hockey has a problem because it is a culture based on the fact that a lot of children leave home and are far from their parents and their homes. Which makes them even more vulnerable than they already were by just being children. It’s the perfect setting for a predator to groom and abuse themselves, and we’ve seen this far too many times. And clearly, that sort of behavior has permeated the highest level of hockey, as this lawsuit against the Hawks claims.

Like I said last night, the Hawks were experts at burying their heads in the sand and / or pushing the easiest element to the side which is the player. They demoted Akim Aliu at the AHL’s ECHL after his allegations of racial abuse by his trainer, Bill Peters. Peters went on to be a complete asshole in Calgary as an NHL coach before he was fired for it all. If the Hawks had done the right thing, he never would have been. Maybe Aliu’s career is going differently. And why? Thus, some people did not have to face a difficult situation and were able to keep their jobs. Keep everything silent.

It’s a familiar story, and the most disheartening thing is that it keeps being told.

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