Allan Muir
Wednesday March 23rd, 2016

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Three days after the story broke that a player was facing charges under Illinois’s new “revenge porn” law, the Chicago Blackhawks announced the indefinite suspension of prospect Garret Ross.

Ross, a 2012 draft pick who has spent the past three seasons with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, was charged Feb. 2 after a four-month investigation concluded that he had shared images of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent.

“The images that were shared with him were not to be disseminated, and he knew that,” Sycamore police Cmdr. Michael Anderson said.

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Although his guilt has yet to be proven, Ross is in a tough spot. So are the Blackhawks. A suspension then was the only decision the organization could make... especially in light of recent history.

That's not to conflate this case with the sexual assault investigation of Patrick Kane. Kane, after all, was never charged, and while many of the actions taken by the team to show their support for him during the process were beyond distasteful, their position ultimately was vindicated.

But the handling of both situations hints at a boys-will-be-boys mentality infecting the organization. And it leaves the team's fans with the impression that they'd prefer to avoid addressing sexual violations until absolutely necessary.

Just look at the timeline in the Ross case. Six weeks passed between charges being filed and the Hawks taking action. Not six weeks from the start of the investigation. Six weeks from Ross being charged with a felony.

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Of course, that's not the story they're selling. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, the Hawks claimed that they only learned of the legal proceedings on Saturday.

While it's within the realm of possibility that the organization was in the dark about this until the story broke on Twitter, that's a hard line to swallow. The case, after all, involved not just Ross, but one of his teammates with the IceHogs. So it defies belief that a four-month long investigation would not have touched base with other Rockford players, members of the coaching staff or front office executives.

It seems likely that someone had to know something before the news broke. And that's why this suspension, coming when it does, flat-out stinks. It feels like a reaction to public pressure rather than a reflection of their organizational standards.

Then again, maybe it reflects them perfectly.

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