Chicago Blackhawks, NHL fail to adequately address sexual abuse scandal



Kyle Beach speaks during an interview with TSN’s Rick Westhead, where he revealed he was one of the players sexually abused by disgraced Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich during his time with the team.

 I normally hate the Chicago Blackhawks just because, well, they’re the Blackhawks.

   The Flyers fan in me hates them because of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, where their fairytale run to the final ended in a 6 game loss to Chicago; the Blues fan in me hates them because they’re our biggest rival.

   Yet the franchise has done something much more despicable than beat the two teams I like in the playoffs. A recent investigation conducted by law firm Jenner & Block found that the Blackhawks front office not only discussed the sexual assault of a player by video coach Brad Aldrich, but failed to do anything to protect that player. It also found that players knew about the assault and just didn’t do anything about it.

   The player in question is Kyle Beach, the 11th overall pick in the 2008 Draft. Beach was highly touted as a power forward coming out of the WHL, and soon began to flash signs of his potential in the AHL with Chicago’s affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. 

   In May 2010, Beach was sexually assaulted by Aldrich, just before the Blackhawks would win the Stanley Cup. The assault, which Beach blames himself for to this day, led him down a spiral of substance abuse which ruined his young career. Beach was playing in Europe by 2014, and his NHL dream is now over at the age of 31.

   The entire Chicago Blackhawks organization, especially Stan Bowman, Al McIsaac, and Joel Quenneville, failed Kyle Beach. So did the NHLPA and Don Fehr, who turned their backs on Beach, failing to help him after he reported the assault to them in 2011. Current Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was a part of the aforementioned meeting, and was cleared by the NHL of any wrongdoing following an investigation as they claimed the then-assistant GM had no real power over the situation. 

   Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the team’s two best players, decided to speak on how good of a man Bowman was on October 28. They are LEADERS WITHIN THE TEAM, and they used a moment to show support to a horrible man who protected a serial sexual assaulter over a former teammate whose life was ruined by said assaulter.

   There has been some support, though. Beach named former teammates Nick Boynton and Brent Sopel as those who helped him and tried to get it fully investigated. Aly Raisman, one of America’s best gymnasts and a victim of Larry Nassar, has also voiced her support for Beach. 

   Yet there have been no current NHL players to really speak out against this. Sure, current Blackhawks players Connor Murphy and Alex DeBrincat have agreed with the decision for those involved in the cover-up to leave, but no one outside of Taylor Hall, who called out hockey’s “old boys club” mentality in support of Beach, has really said anything regarding the scandal.

   The NHL’s handling of this has been awful as well. Gary Bettman’s recent public statements defending the NHL’s decision to fine Chicago a whopping $2 million were flat out disheartening and leads me to believe that he’s no longer fit to run the National Hockey League; it’s like he’s actively stifling league improvement. The NHL’s response to this was just completely baffling and in no way sufficient, leaving a stain on its public image that could take years to erase.

   If you had any reason to dislike not only Chicago, but the NHL as a whole, you do now. It’s clear the league doesn’t care about sexual assault and helping victims; rather it would protect those who commit such heinous acts and slap the teams that covered it up with a meager fine and a verbal warning. Completely and utterly shameful.