The 19-year-old NHL veteran Corey Perry, who has 892 points under his belt, was dismissed on Tuesday after making just 16 appearances for the Chicago Blackhawks. The announcement came after a few days of his unexplained absence from the team, which started last Wednesday when he was not playing during a trip to Columbus.
In a statement issued on Saturday, Perry’s agent said that his client had “stepped away from the Chicago Blackhawks to attend to personal matters.”
In a statement released by Chicago on Tuesday announcing the impending termination of Perry’s contract, they attributed the move to “conduct that is unacceptable, and in violation of both the terms of his Standard Player’s Contract and the Blackhawks’ internal policies intended to promote professional and safe work environments.” However, General Manager Kyle Davidson stated the same day that management had decided to keep Perry off the team.
It’s still unclear what exactly transpired to put an immediate stop to Perry’s stay in Chicago. Sources close to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan claim that on Tuesday, while Perry was in Columbus with the club, “an incident occurred that day involving a team employee.” Officials from the team made sure Perry didn’t play after learning about the event and launched an investigation.
After over a week passed without an official statement, an internet rumor concerning the player’s mother and a teammate became popular. The reports were so widespread that Davidson explicitly refuted that any players or family members were involved in the incident during a media conference on Tuesday.
“Anything that suggests otherwise or anyone that suggests otherwise is wildly inaccurate and, frankly, it’s disgusting,” he said. When asked if there was any criminality in the Perry situation, Davidson responded, “This was a workplace matter.”
A cloud over the entire franchise looms over every unsolved question here. Although all NHL teams must address a culture tainted by mistreatment and misogyny, the Blackhawks organization and owner Danny Wirtz are subject to and deserving of more scrutiny.
Former Chicago player Kyle Beach came forward in 2021 to reveal in the public eye how video coach Brad Aldrich had sexually attacked him during the 2010 postseason. Before Aldrich eventually served nine months in prison and registered as a sex offender, the club ignored the accusations, won the Cup, and allowed him to resign and find other hockey employment.
The Blackhawks organization has done everything possible to quarantine this latest issue with their insistence that, even though it happened at work, none of their other players are involved or even aware of whatever Perry did. In this way, Perry is the bad apple tossed in the trash. But for anyone who has familiarity with Perry’s career, that isolation feels antithetical to Perry’s value on the ice.
Like everywhere else, Perry was signed especially for the things he brought to a locker room in Chicago. All of those who have lauded his leadership should be asked to explain his apparent misbehavior, which was so severe that it may have ruined his hockey career. The goal of Davidson’s news conference was to clear his other players so they would have an easy way out if they were questioned about the event. But “I didn’t know, so it’s not my concern” should no longer be an acceptable response, especially for the Blackhawks. Players who choose to stay out of trouble don’t heal the terrible gashes in hockey culture, and a team’s desire for the tale to end doesn’t mean that it is.