Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said Tuesday the front office was told during a team trip last week about Corey Perry committing possible misconduct, which led to an internal investigation culminating with the organization cutting ties with the veteran winger.
Davidson spoke with reporters for 10 minutes to address the team's decision to move on from Perry after the Blackhawks announced earlier in the day that they placed the 38-year-old on unconditional waivers for the purposes of terminating his contract.
In their initial statement, the Blackhawks alleged Perry engaged in conduct they described as "unacceptable," saying it was in violation of both the terms of his contract and the team's internal policies that are "intended to promote professional and safe work environments." They did not detail what allegedly happened.
"This has been a tough situation and I understand you wanted answers," Davidson said. "It was important that we took all the necessary steps before sharing more. I hope you can understand that I may not be able to answer everything today. But I am going to be as open and honest as I can be given the situation and out of respect for those involved."
Upon being asked if the incident itself was criminal or could potentially become criminal, Davidson said: "It was a workplace matter."
Davidson said the NHL and the NHLPA were aware of what's happening before noting it was "a team incident and so it was a team decision."
Davidson said the team was first notified of the allegations last week when the Blackhawks were in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday to play the Blue Jackets. Sources told ESPN's Emily Kaplan that Perry indeed traveled with the team to Columbus last Tuesday, a day before the game, and an incident occurred that day involving a team employee. Davidson said Perry, who did not play in the team's 7-3 loss, was "immediately pulled" from the game once the Blackhawks were notified, and at that point, the club began an investigation.
Asked for how Perry responded to the team's decision, Davidson declined to get into the details of his discussion with him. Davidson said he did speak with the team earlier in the day to inform it of the Blackhawks' decision to place Perry on waivers. He also said the players have no knowledge or any details of the incident.
"It's obviously ... been very tough," said Davidson, who got choked up at different moments of his news conference. "It's been a tough couple of days."
Perry's status with the Blackhawks had been in question. His most recent game came Nov. 19 in a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres that saw Perry finish with zero points -- the last game the Blackhawks played before Davidson said they first learned about the allegations.
Perry had initially taken a leave of absence from the team, with Davidson telling reporters on Saturday the decision to send him away from the team was made by management. Perry's agent, Pat Morris, said in a statement that same day that it was Perry's decision to leave the Blackhawks.
The questions around Perry's absence eventually led to social media speculation over the past few days that the incident itself may have involved the family member of a Blackhawks player.
Davidson addressed those rumors in his opening statement. He said the incident did not involve any players or their family members.
"Anything that suggests otherwise or anyone that suggests otherwise is wildly inaccurate and, frankly, it's disgusting," Davidson said.
Davidson was also asked about the speculation toward the end of the news conference. An emotional Davidson said the past 24 hours had been "very disturbing" before adding that it "has been tough to see."
He was then asked whether he wished he had given an earlier clarification of what was happening given the rumors.
"You know what? I think we went through the process as quickly as we could in order to run a responsible investigation," Davidson said.
The Blackhawks have already played three times since what appears to be Perry's last game with the club, with their lone win being an overtime victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 24.
The Blackhawks signed Perry to a one-year contract worth $4 million in the offseason. Perry had spent the past two seasons playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, scoring 12 goals and 25 points in his final year with the club.
A 19-year veteran, Perry has scored 421 goals and 471 assists in 1,273 games between the Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Lightning and Blackhawks. He won the Stanley Cup in 2007 with the Ducks and won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP for the 2010-11 season.