Blackhawks offenders seeking return to the NHL

Marc Elliott

CLOQUET HOCKEY HERO Jamie Langenbrunner will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on December 6.

CLOQUET – It took place a couple of Fridays ago in a hotel in the greater Chicago area. There weren't any big announcements beforehand that this was going to take place, and moreover, there hasn't been a great deal of reporting on this event since. But the cat is out of the bag now and I suspect this will filter through the hockey media in short order.  

At a Windy City hotel near O'Hare airport, banished former Blackhawk staff members Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman spoke to a group of all NHL club GMs and Head Coaches. The topic? What else but the sexual assault crime against Kyle Beach that saw both Bowman and "Q" indefinitely suspended by the league. They were there to speak to the group about the incident that led to their dismissal and about what they had learned as a result. OK, fair enough. Just what have they learned, if anything? Better yet, what have we, the viewing public and fanbase, learned from this?  

You had to think that when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman used the word "indefinitely" it was a heads-up that this matter would be in front of us again at some point in time, and apparently that time is now, or at least, right around the corner. While I'm not aware of any formal "reapplication" process that might be underway from either Q or Bowman, it hasn't been hard to see the machinations going on to pave the way for just that. As tough as Bettman can be when he is busy smacking the players' union around during labor negotiations, with money on the line for his bosses, there are times when he isn't all that hard to read.  

I have seen at least two interviews with him where he was asked about the current status of both men, and he was handing out non-answer answers indicating that the time would probably come when the possibility of reinstatement might exist and he will take it under advisement when that time comes. I'd be willing to bet dollars to donuts right now that Bettman will rubber-stamp those applications when they get to his desk. OK, I understand that.  

In a vast majority of these types of situations I firmly believe in second chances. While there are more heinous examples of crimes committed versus punishment meted out, and all ensuing considerations, we understand what happened. We understand how the team and league opted to deal with those involved, and if the punishment given is deemed to be appropriate and served with no further issues, I'm not certain there are any prudent ways to block these two from returning to their chosen profession. Many will be unhappy with that when these two are allowed back into the league. And mark my words, I've seen and heard enough now to view that as an inevitability.        

Q and Bowman were suspended in October of 2021. We aren't even at the second-anniversary point of that yet. And far be it for me to pass judgment on the sincerity of any remorse they may have within them or lack thereof, but I do know that both have worked toward understanding the matter before them and how what they did impacted the individuals involved. To my knowledge both men have worked with groups and individuals that endeavor in the field of sexual assault and victims issues.    Being out of the game has had obvious financial penalties for both men, but I can only surmise that they were and still are more financially comfortable than most. But when it comes to what an appropriate penalty is, financial or otherwise, there are multiple considerations involved.  

At the end of the day though, no consideration should be as important as the impact this has had upon the victims of this or any crime. The challenge is that in these types of crimes against a person, that can be hard to assess in terms of personal impact and recovery. People get shot, assaulted, and can suffer a litany of other crimes against them, either physically or financially. In those cases, wounds can heal, jury awards can be handed out to alleviate grievance and so on. But then, these types of crimes can have lifelong impacts on the victims because no matter what, the dark mental aspects and the psychological impacts never really go away. In fact, as victims age, the mental damage left upon them can increase. In some cases no amount of counseling can alleviate the mental anguish that has been inflicted. So, what to do here?  

I recently heard that Bowman was in the conversation for the CAL Flames GM position when it was vacant earlier this summer. The mere thought that he was even in the running without having been reinstated yet is a very poor optic for me. As for Q, I haven't heard anything about any job pursuits as of yet, but it likely will happen.  

When it comes to labor negotiations with the NHLPA, Bettman has owned them. When it comes to other major issues off the ice such as this one, racism, pride nights, and so on, I have a pretty incomplete report card on both Bettman and the league. I don't think enough time has passed to serve as a proper punishment relative to what happened and their role in looking the other way, thus aiding and abetting a coverup.  

If it's my call, I say no to both at this time. Re-examine it down the road perhaps, but not now. And by the way, how IS Kyle Beach doing these days?  

CLOQUET HOCKEY HERO Jamie Langenbrunner will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on December 6 in Boston. Entering the Hall with him will be former players Dustin Brown and Katie King Crowley. They will be joined by longtime Exec Brian Burke and Official Brian Murphy.  

Langenbrunner came up through the ranks of youth hockey in Minnesota and played at Cloquet High School in his FR, SO and JR years before departing for Junior hockey with the Peterborough Petes for two seasons.  He was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft and turned pro after his 94-95 Junior season. He squeezed in a handful of games with the Stars before spending the bulk of the 95-96 season in the IHL with the Star's former affiliate, the Michigan K-Wings.  

The 96-97 season was his first full-time year in the NHL, and he never looked back. He was a major contributor to the Star's successful Stanley Cup run in the 98-99 season as the team's third-leading scorer in the tourney. In 2002 he was traded to the NJ Devils where he would win another Stanley Cup in the 2003 tourney. In 2007 he was named Captain of the Devils.  

He was a member of the Silver Medal-winning Team USA at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and would eventually retire in the middle of the 13-14 NHL season. Langenbrunner was a high-quality player and leader on whatever roster he was on, and this honor is well deserved. Cloquet Hockey has a long history of producing top-level talent, and he might be the best ever from there. Many Congrats! PEACE