Content Warning: The following article contains references to sexual assault.
Today USA Hockey announced the hockey operations team that will represent them at the 2022 Winter Olympics. That group includes Rangers’ President and General Manager Chris Drury.
Drury will assist Bill Guerin, currently the GM of the Minnesota Wild, who was officially selected to be USA Hockey’s General Manager. Guerin replaces Stan Bowman who resigned in disgrace from both the Chicago Blackhawks and Team USA following the release of the findings of an investigation on how Chicago handled sexual assault allegations involving video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2010 Stanley Cup run.
Following Bowman’s resignation, it was speculated that Guerin would replace him. Rumors of Guerin replacing Bowman drew ire, because at the time he too was involved in a case regarding sexual assault.
Legal team for Erin Skalde announces in a media advisory that she will file a lawsuit in state court and will detail allegations of sexual assault against Clark Donatelli and will also name Pittsburgh Penguins, Bill Guerin, owner Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle as defendants in suit— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) November 2, 2021
Via USA Today:
Jarrod and Erin Skalde sued the Penguins nearly a year ago in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleging former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coach Clark Donatelli molested Erin Skalde during an outing on a road trip in 2018. The team is the American Hockey League affiliate of the Penguins and is run by the NHL club.
They also alleged current Minnesota Wild general manager Bill Guerin, who was GM for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and assistant GM for the Penguins at the time, asked Jarrod Skalde to keep the reason for Donatelli’s termination quiet and that the team punished Skalde for reporting the assault and later terminated his position under the guise of pandemic-related staff cuts.
The Penguins settled the lawsuit with the Skaldes in November, and that means there won’t be any additional information coming out on Guerin and his involvement in that situation. That said, Guerin is presumably still under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, as there’s not been an official update in quite some time.
I'd also remind folks about the severe backlog of cases and deluge of investigations. That means these can take a long time.— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) October 28, 2021
I've covered probes that have taken 20 months and some that have dragged on longer.
Even if the Center doesn't take jurisdiction on this one, which I believe they will because Guerin is an active participant, that doesn't count as being "cleared of wrongdoing."— Katie Strang (@KatieJStrang) October 28, 2021
That said, Rick Westhead of TSN who led the charge on reporting on the Blackhawks scandal tweeted in November that Guerin wouldn’t be appointed as GM unless & until he’s cleared.
Wild GM Bill Guerin, accused of covering up a sexual assault allegation, won't be appointed US Olympic hockey team GM unless & until he's cleared by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 1, 2021
USA Hockey spokesman told me report Guerin would be cleared imminently was “cart before the horse.”
Guerin was officially named today, so maybe it is possible that more information is coming out on that front. Michael Russo of The Athletic also had a story in October on Guerin and the investigation, and in the story he had comment from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly on the situation.
Based on what we know — and the facts have been investigated multiple times already — this is not a Chicago situation,” Daly emailed The Athletic. “There is no indication that Bill Guerin (or any other member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ organization) at any time neglected his reporting duties or failed to follow-up appropriately on (the) reported concerns. I am completely confident that when all is said and done, the US Center for Safe Sport will conclude the same.”
It is all good and well for Daly to say this, but this is the same person who said the NHL’s probe on Akim Aliu was finished, even though that was news to Aliu himself.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on status of NHL investigation into Akim Aliu's racism allegations: "I really don't have anything I want to say publicly. I said what I wanted to say at a media availability a few weeks ago and I stand by that."— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) December 10, 2021
That’s where things stand currently, with some having more questions than answers. This is of note because Drury is next in line should Guerin need to be replaced, but more importantly, it is important to state what’s going on. While this is a New York Rangers blog, and it would be easy to write a brief update stating Drury was named AGM of Team USA, it is important to provide context of what’s going on around him, and not ignore the situation at hand.